Gen Z is choosing more often than previous generations to forego a formal education and instead start their own businesses, but why? Starting your own business is certainly more appealing than working a low level job right out of high school, and Gen Z has watched many famous entrepreneurs go this route with great success. But probably the most compelling factor for this shift is watching the Millennials rack up massive college debt burdens and be unable to find jobs to cover their living expenses and their  college debt together. Gen Z, in short, is looking for a better way.

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The cost of a college education has skyrocketed in the last few decades. Since 1978 the cost of college tuition has increased more than 150%, while the average household income of the families sending their kids off to college has grown only 20%. The cost of living is way up and wages are way down, and Millennials are finding themselves living with their parents much longer than other recent generations have. Gen Z has taken note and is avoiding being saddled with enormous college debt at all costs.

There are alternatives to college when you are wanting to learn but unwilling to take on a college debt load. E learning has become a huge industry - by 2025 it is projected to be a $325 billion global industry, and by 2020 Gen Z is expected to make up 20% of e learning customers. Counted among these e learning opportunities are several programs aimed at helping young entrepreneurs, such as The Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship, The Thiel Fellowship, and TE Global.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college to pursue startup dreams and ended up making it really big. But even Bill Gates discourages people from dropping out, stating that getting a degree is a much better path for most people. Getting an education is still a solid plan - 99% of the jobs created since the recession require a bachelor’s degree, and workers with bachelor’s degrees receive 57% of all wages in the United States. Currently only about 3% of Gen Z say they will start their own companies after high school, while 61% say they will attend University. But this generation is still young and there is ample evidence this trend will grow as they do.

Learn more about why Gen Z is skipping school from this infographic.

Skipping School college debt