How Gen Z Approaches Decision-Making: Education and Career


How Gen Z Approaches Decision-Making: Education and Career

2 years ago 2 years ago Published by
This report was published by American Student Assistance.


Gen Z is a generation like no other, and it’s crucial that we understand what drives their decision-making processes in order to best position young people for future success. Based on our insights, gathered in collaboration with YPulse and Hanover Research, we’ve uncovered that the “rules” as we know them must be thoroughly reconsidered to accommodate the shifting needs and priorities of this new generation beginning, or preparing, to enter the workforce.

This need for understanding is precisely what is covered in American Student Assistance (ASA)’s new whitepaper, How Gen Z Approaches Decision-Making: Education and Career. Our research compares current high schoolers’ education plans and motivations with those of high school graduates, as well as the implications of those findings, broken out into seven key takeaways:

  1. Gen Z’s decision journey cycle is fluid. Gen Z’s decision cycle begins and ends with self-reflection, and, in between, they rely on personal advisors as well as online research to inform their choices.
  2. Gen Z’s decision-making influencers change over time. As a student’s life progresses, the influence of parents ebbs and flows — and other influencers, like friends, teachers, guidance counselors, and mentors play increasingly significant roles.
  3. Gen Z is making their own professional and educational decisions. Whereas certain decisions like those related to health and household are still made by older adults in young people’s lives, Gen Z is taking ownership of their professional and educational choices.
  4. Gen Z’s college and career plans are different from other generations. A larger percentage of the new generation is seeking alternative education and career paths, compared to older generations who largely prioritized 4-year degrees.
  5. Gen Z wants more career exploration opportunities. 69% of current high schoolers say they would benefit from more career-focused programming before graduation.
  6. The younger generation thinks high schools should encourage future planning. According to Gen Z, high schools should be responsible for providing future exploration initiatives.
  7. Success and happiness are defined differently by this generation. Gen Z prioritizes being able to tap into their passions, as well as emotional wellbeing, when looking at education and career paths.

American Student Assistance. (2021). How Gen Z Approaches Decision-Making: Education and Career.

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