The CTE Landscape, Once The Focus of Adult Learners, Is Now On Gen Z’s Radar

To show college education

In the year prior to the pandemic, the percentage of recent high school graduates who enrolled in college was a fairly robust 66.2%. Although total enrollment has been on the decline for over a decade, this figure was still relatively strong.

However, by the fall semester of 2022, the percentage of recent high school grads who enrolled in college dropped precipitously to just 62%.[1] Clearly, the pandemic has had a lasting effect on the minds of both former and current high schoolers, with many now choosing an alternative educational pathway. A pathway they hope leads directly to a career.

Even today, a year further out from the pandemic, and a year further beyond the fall 2022 college enrollment data (supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics[2]), this alternative mindset continues among Gen Z.

Now, as Higher Ed Dive notes, Gen Z does value higher education at a rate similar to other generations. But they actually value it more now than before the pandemic. A recent survey showed that 65% of high schoolers say they need further education after graduation. This, compared to just 59% pre-pandemic.[3]

But as Conversion Media Group, a leader in CTE enrollment initiatives will explain in a moment, they’re valuing a different type of education.

You see, while a career-based education has often been within the purview of adult learners, Gen Z is now taking a career and technical education quite seriously too.

In fact, the percentage of students considering a career-based education has risen 27% since 2020, with nearly 40% of all high schoolers saying the most important thing in choosing an institution of higher education is what careers would be available to them after graduation.[4]

Career educators should be taking notice: Gen Z wants an education that leads directly to a career. Of course, there are many reasons why Gen Z is searching for alternatives to college, but the most often cited reason is the return on investment.

Simply put, many in the 18–24-year-old demographic believe the costs associated with a four-year college degree are too high, and the career possibilities after graduation may be too limited.

Instead, they want a career-based education that offers great value, and the potential to land a good job directly after graduating…

And they don’t want to study for four years to begin working.

As the survey (noted in Higher Ed Dive) shows, Gen Z is ready to hit the pavement running.  48% said their post high school education would ideally take three years or less to complete. 35% said it should take two years or less to complete.

This data puts career-based educators in the driver’s seat, as Gen Z’s educational timeframe fits perfectly into many CTE programs.

Now, how does your career-based institution attract 18–24-year-olds?

How do you boost your enrollments?

Well, As one of the nation’s leaders in driving new CTE enrollments, Conversion Media Group is in constant contact with thousands of prospective students, both new high school grads and adult learners, nearly every single day.

Yes, thousands of them.

We put in the time learning what it is that they really want to do in life, where they want to do it, and how we can help connect them to the career-based program that best fits their timeframe and their needs.

Because of the amount of prospective students we speak on the phone with (we own and operate US-based contact centers), we’re able to help drive qualified leads for almost any program, at almost any volume.

Gen Z (as well as adult learners) wants to hear from your school. They want to know what you have to offer, and they want a career-based education. The proof is in the data.

Now, whether you need 50, 100, 1,000 new students or more, Conversion Media Group can help you reach your enrollment goals.

So, If you’re interested in learning more about how Conversion Media Group can drive qualified education leads, applications, and enrollments to your institution – call one of our education specialists today at: (+1) 800 419 3201.

Or you can contact us HERE, and a CTE enrollment expert will get back with you as soon as possible.

[1] College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates Summary – 2022 A01 Results (

[2] College Enrollment and Work Activity of Recent High School and College Graduates Summary – 2022 A01 Results (

[3] Gen Z values education — but doesn’t think a four-year degree is the only option | Higher Ed Dive

[4] Gen Z values education — but doesn’t think a four-year degree is the only option | Higher Ed Dive

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