How Gen Z is Changing Education

Gen Z is growing up and changing education along the way.


STEM college students.

(KrongPhoto /

By now, Gen Z, or people born between 1997 to 2012, are mostly grown up and heading into young adulthood. As a generation, Gen Zers are known to be technologically savvy, invested, involved, and practical. It is with these characteristics that the young adults of today are changing education reports Forbes.

Not passive learners
One of the unique characteristics of Gen Z is that they refuse to be passive learners. They want to be involved and engaged in the classroom. In addition, they prefer to learn in an environment with access to digital tools. Likewise, as a generation raised on the internet, they have access to incredible amounts of information. They are aware of trends, world events, and cultural happenings. This has made for a very ambitious and career-focused cohort of young adults.

Forgoing higher education
Ironically, Business Insider reports, it is the focus on career that is changing education the most, in that many Gen Zers are foregoing higher education and going straight into the job market. 

In July of 2023, Business Insider and YouGov, conducted a survey of over 1,800 Americans over five generations. About 600 of those 1,800 belonged to Gen Z. Only 39 percent of those 600 young adults thought that advancing their education was important, and 46 percent said that college was not worth the cost. 

Ana Hernández Kent, a senior researcher with the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, told Business Insider, “When I'm talking to younger people of Gen Z, it seems like they're very aware, and that might be a little bit of a shift. So instead of just a blanket approach, and assuming that they need to go to college and that it's going to pay off, they're much more critical.”

As Business Insider likewise points out, when working as a truck driver can bring in a six figure salary, it’s hard to convince young adults that they need to spend the money and oftentimes go into debt in order to acquire higher education.

Adapting higher education for Gen Z
Some colleges and universities are picking up the gauntlet, and working to make college a more affordable option for the current generation of students. For instance, the Texas community college system is working to implement a program that would base funding on student outcomes. 

According to The 74 Million organization, a survey done in late 2023 by Common Sense Media, Gallup and the Walton Foundation 53 percent of the 12-to-26-year-olds surveyed believed that a good education was a key to improving life in the United States. Additionally, the survey showed that there is still huge interest in STEM fields among Gen-Zers. 

Finally, the survey showed that Gen Z is an optimistic generation, with 70 percent of those surveyed believing that their lives will be better or the same as their parents’ lives. 

The world is changing, and higher education will change with it. Colleges and universities will find ways to keep this practical, ambitious, and optimistic generation engaged and invested in bettering themselves, whether by making education more affordable, or by focusing on the practical. After all, who knows how much this generation will change the world?

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