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More high school students than in the recent past aren’t planning to go to college, according to a new survey by ECMC Group, a nonprofit company focused on education.

ECMC surveyed 4,200 high school students over the past 20 months. The most recent survey was in September. The survey’s respondents include those in all four years of high school.

Among the findings:

  • The proportion of students considering four-year college has decreased by 23 percentage points since May 2020, with fewer than half of teens now planning to pursue that pathway (down to 48 percent from 71 percent).
  • Eighty-six percent of students feel pressure to pursue a four-year degree, with most pressure coming from parents/guardians/family and society at large.
  • Forty-six percent of students say their ideal post–high school education should require fewer than four years to complete; 45 percent said it should require two years or fewer.
  • Eighty-three percent of teens think about their education and career path at least weekly; 53 percent think about it daily.
  • More than 65 percent said the cost of tuition and the amount of student loans they would need were important factors in what they choose to do after high school.
  • Forty-three percent said the cost of college is the most important element in their education decision, outranking job placements, completion rates and college rankings.
  • Seventy-three percent said an important factor of their post–high school path was whether there is a direct path to a career.
  • Forty-five percent said they want formal education throughout their lifetime.
  • Nearly one-third said they would prefer their education incorporate several short (one year or less) experiences over their lifetime rather than one longer experience (four years).
  • Gen Z believes the government and employers must get involved: 47 percent believe the government should provide additional money to pay off student loans, and 38 percent believe companies should provide formal education.

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