It took just one semester for Rushil Srivastava to realize that college was not what he had hoped. “As a kid, you always imagine college will be a life-changing experience, and that your freshman year is where you’ll get a chance to discover yourself,” he said. Instead, he was forced to take classes online in the wake of COVID and faced a campus social scene that remained fractured. The computer-science major wound up dropping out of UC Berkeley in fall 2021, only a few months after he had enrolled.
Soon after Srivastava decided to launch a startup designed to help job seekers find work. Today, as most of his peers are starting their senior year of college, he’s got more than $1 million in venture-capital funding. “Most of my friends are just now finally getting adjusted, some better than others,” the now 20-year-old said. “The world is rapidly evolving — and so is the college experience.”
Srivastava is one of a soaring number of Gen Zers who has decided to skip college altogether. Four million fewer teenagers enrolled at a college in 2022 than in 2012. For many, the price tag has simply grown too exorbitant to justify the cost. From 2010 to 2022, college tuition rose an average of 12% a year, while overall inflation only increased an average of 2.6% each year. Today it costs at least $104,108 on average to attend four years of public university — and $223,360 for a private university.