LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: Educational paths for teenagers are shifting.

A new survey from ECMC Group and Vice Media shows that nearly half of all high school graduates don’t think they need college to be successful anymore. According to Grace Bastidas, editor in-chief for the American parenting magazine ‘Parents’…. we are seeing this shift due to a number of reasons. She says the biggest one is cost. Bastidas says more and more teenagers are seeing the price of tuition across the nation skyrocket and don’t want to get stuck with student loans that they’ll likely be paying back for decades. In fact, since 1980 the price to attend a four-year college full-time has increased by 180%, and the average debt load for a 2022 college graduate was more than $28,000 dollars — factors teenagers nowadays don’t want to deal with.

“When we think about the current crop of high school students,” says Bastidas, “Gen Z has a more expansive view of the world, they have grown up in the digital era, so they don’t see the traditional 4-year learning institutions as the only way to open doors.”

Bastidas says teenagers are increasingly finding three alternatives to college:

*Taking a gap year, to gain some real-world experience, save money, and decide what they’d like to do in the future.

*Apprenticeship, that can help teenagers gain real work experience in a specific field, while also earning money.

*Attending a trade school, that takes a lot less time and financial burden to achieve success.

Next Tuesday, we’ll continue on this topic — and I’ll help parents with a list of things they can do, to help their children plan for the future, if it doesn’t include attending a 4-year college.