A recent national survey from Boston’s Northeastern University reveals that members of Generation Z—those born in the mid-1990s or later—are highly self-directed, demonstrated by a strong desire to work for themselves, study entrepreneurship and design their own programs of study in college.
According to the survey, 63% of the respondents—all between the ages of 16 and 19—said they want to learn about entrepreneurship in college, including how to start a business. Nearly three out of four (72%) said that colleges should allow students to design their own course of study or major. In addition, 42% said they expect to work for themselves at some point, nearly four times higher than the actual percentage of self-employed Americans. This finding was even more pronounced among African-Americans (60%) and Hispanics (59%).
The survey also revealed a sense financial anxiety—perhaps incu-bated during the Great Recession—coupled with a strong desire to become more financially educated and to obtain
real-world experience. Eighty-five percent said they want to be taught practical skills in college, such as financial planning and saving for the future, while 79% believe their college education should include some form of professional expe-ri-ence such as internships.
“A new generation of Americans is on the rise: highly entrepreneurial, pluralistic and determined to take charge of their own futures,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun in a news release.
Contrary to the prevailing narrative about today’s teenagers, the survey revealed somewhat modest enthusiasm for technology, especially in their personal lives. Only 15% of Generation Z respondents said they prefer to interact with friends via social media than in person. Only 38% said they make most of their purchases online.