BOSTON (WHDH) - Many high school graduates are temporarily skipping college to instead enter the workforce as they face the rising cost of higher education, a hot jobs market and a volatile economy.
“If I go into the trades I can make money while I learn and then eventually maybe go to college after I make enough money,” said Chris Shwarting, who’s attending trade school.
Experts said choosing to go to trade school is contributing to the recent decrease in undergraduate college enrollment.
“We really thought things would be starting to pick up a little at this point or at least the rate of decline would be slowing now after two full years of the pandemic,” said Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the National Student Clearing House.
A recent study from the National Student Clearing House found 662,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs in the spring of 2022. Undergraduate enrollment was down by 1.4 million in late May, which was fewer compared to when the pandemic first started.
“The economy really changed,” said Shapiro, who explained that COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that has contributed to decreased college enrollment. “Starting last summer, wages are rising, employers were eager to hire people even with minimal skills or training.”
The Biden administration canceling some student debt for millions of Americans hasn’t swayed many would-be students entering the trades.
“My dad is 45 and he is still paying for student debt and it’s not a life I want to live,” said Shwarting.
Experts said another reason so many young people are passing up college to learn a trade is that those careers have gotten more competitive and can often offer pay that rivals what a person with a four-year degree can make.
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