New wave of students wants to design own college plans

Two-thirds of Gen Z-aged respondents said they want to learn about entrepreneurship in college

With a design to do things their own way, Generation Z, or people ages 16 to 19, could change higher ed.

According to the “Portrait of Generation Z” report released by Northeastern University, nearly two-thirds of Gen Z-aged respondents said they want to learn about entrepreneurship in college, including how to start a busi­ness. More than four in 10 expect to work for them­selves at some point—nearly four times higher than the current per­centage of self-†‹†‹employed Amer­i­cans.

This entrepreneurial spirit may be due to the economy, says Mike Reilly, executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “Given the challenges some graduates have had in finding jobs, younger generations want a solid degree in a field doing well. One of the ways to ensure they have a job after college is to launch their own efforts.”

The majority of Gen-Zers think col­leges should allow stu­dents to design their own majors, should integrate practical experience into programs and should offer skills like financial planning.

While Reilly advises schools not to necessarily abandon their current practices, several schools do follow this trend, such as The Evergreen State College in Washington. Students design their own degree plans, as there are no majors.

To help guide students in mapping out their own courses, administrators can learn about current job trends, says Reilly. Colleges and universities may need to be more flexible with time, as creating their own majors may result in more students not graduating in four years.

“That notion also goes against many federal and state government efforts to get a degree as quickly as possible,” Reilly adds.

According to the Northeastern study, Gen-Z students want colleges to:

  • …offer practical skills such as financial planning (85%)
  • …integrate internships and other professional experience into their programs (79%)
  • …allow them to design their own majors (72%)
  • …teach entrepreneurship (63%)

Most Popular