The value of education for Millennials cannot be underestimated, with the generation to date the most educated in American history, up nearly a quarter from the previous generation. Aside from being more educated, they are also more ethnically and racially diverse than their parents’ generation, with more people of color achieving college degrees than ever before. Nearly 50% of Millennials now have post-secondary degrees, with another 18% that have postsecondary education. As a generational group, Millennials are more educated across the board, yet there is a sizeable portion – nearly 40% – that begin college but dropout with no degree or only receive an associate’s degree. Another interesting caveat from the data is that Millennial women are more educated than their male counterparts, outpace men in their generation at a rate of 36% versus 29%, and even more dramatically when compared to their great-grandparents’ generation, when women were 6% less likely to have attained a college degree.
The data proves that Millennials possess more college degrees than other American generations, yet test scores confirm what many have been discussing for years – the math, literacy, and problem-solving skills they possess have significantly dwindled on average. These weaker skill sets and lower test scores indicate that America lags behind internationally, which will affect the competitive workforce in the future.
As the cost of education continues to soar in America, the subjects predominantly studied by Millennials has shifted as well, indicating that the technological advances of the last thirty years have made a tremendous impact on those decisions. Informational sciences, or IT, is at the forefront of that shift, a natural shift that takes into consideration how affected Millennials have been through the emergence of computers and smartphones. Architecture combines art and technology, and is also one of the more popular degrees pursued for Millennials that have a preference for art and numbers. Similarly, automotive and electronics technology are also high on the list, which can lead to more stable positions in the labor workforce. Social media has exploded as well, and fittingly, other popular majors currently are marketing and creative professions that blend writing, video, and technical skills. As the largest group of Americans now with more than 75 million, Millennials are changing the face and trajectory of America through their significantly different views from previous generations and their pursuit of higher education.