When asked about a potential new pathway for their children to get a college degree, 74% of all parents of K-12 students would consider a route where their child would be hired directly out of high school by an employer that offers a college degree while working. (Nearly four-in-ten gave the strongest level of endorsement saying they would “definitely” consider this.) Remarkably, there are no meaningful differences in support for this new pathway by the parent’s education level, race, income or political affiliation – giving the concept broad appeal across the board. And parents not only see this path as a much more affordable route through college, but they also see it as a better pathway in preparing their child for ultimate success in work and life. Ninety-percent say “you can learn a lot from a job,” 89% say “work is important for personal growth,” and 85% say “work is important to one’s purpose.”
This strong value placed on work by parents of the coming generation of college students represents a major pendulum swing. Today’s college students are actually the least working generation in U.S. history. Driven by current dissatisfaction with the work-relevance of college and the work-readiness of graduates and the sheer intimidation of college costs, the parents of the coming generation of college students hope to change this dynamic. They endorse a very different model for the future. That said, they still value certain aspects of “college” such as the social development and critical thinking that are advertised as common benefits of the collegiate experience. But, of course, higher education does not have a monopoly on social development and critical thinking.