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Survey: A Third of Younger Generations Opted Out of College Education, for Varying Reasons

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 15, 2024


A third of Gen Zers and millennials said they chose to forgo higher education, a 2024 Deloitte survey found, according to Business Insider. Their primary reasons were financial barriers, family or personal circumstances, or plans for careers that don't require college degrees.

The report also found that more than half of Gen Z and millennials are living paycheck to paycheck.

"Cost of living is their top societal concern,” said Deloitte Global Chief People & Purpose Officer Elizabeth Faber in an interview with Business Insider. “The financial constraints of higher education are the number one reason that Gen Zs and millennials are not pursuing it."

Slightly less than a third of both generations reported that they don't feel financially secure, and many might be seeking out careers that bring stability and don't necessarily require a degree, according to Business Insider.

"They are looking for roles that are making them less prone for disruption, less vulnerable to automation," Faber said.

The findings may result from high student debt loads and the availability of jobs that do not require a degree. Last year, a Business Insider survey found that only 39 percent of Gen Zers said that advancing their education was important to them, while 46 percent of them did not think going to college was worth the cost.

According to Faber, the Deloitte survey found that the types of jobs held by respondents with higher levels of education tend to provide longer-term job security; these respondents are also less likely to have secondary sources of income. Women are also more likely than men to cite financial constraints as a reason for not pursuing higher education, even though they're more likely to have an interest in getting a college degree, said Faber.

"Those with higher levels of education do feel like they have more purpose and impact within their organization," she said. "They can drive more change and they have had more agency in choosing to reject assignments or employers that are not aligned with their personal beliefs."