Skipping School: Gen Z Entrepreneurs Make Their Own Way

Skipping School

Share this Image On Your Site

Generation Z has grown up watching successful young entrepreneurs drop out of school―but do those few successes set an unrealistic precedent?

The Most Entrepreneurial Generation

Gen Zers Make Their Own Way

61% of high school students and 43% of college students would rather be entrepreneurs than employees after college

Of students grades 5-12:
40% plan to start their own business
29% want to invent something that changes the world
24% are already learning how to start and run a business
9% already own a business
Draws of Entrepreneurship

Parental Pressure to Pave Their Own Career Path

55% of high schoolers say their parents pressure them to gain professional experience while in high school
But 54% of their parents have not helped them gain experience

Low Prospects in Traditional Jobs

Unemployment Rate:
Young high school graduates
2000: 12.1%
2017: 16.9%
Young college graduates
2000: 4.3%
2017: 5.6%

Average Wages:

Young high school graduates
$10.89 per hour
4.3% lower than 2000

Young college graduates
$19.18 per hour
1.4% higher than 2000

Increasingly Independent Workforce

55 million Americans work as freelancers
That’s 35% of the workforce
In 2016, the freelance workforce earned $1 trillion
79% of freelancers said freelancing is better than a traditional job

Are you engaged at work?
85% of freelancers
68% of non-freelancers

Another apparent draw of working for yourself? You don’t have to wait to finish school

What Young Entrepreneurs Say About Education

“We need to stop focusing on scaring students into passing and motivate them to do more with the information that is taught at school.” – Ishan Goel, 18, CEO,

“Not going to college allowed me to learn and teach myself on my own and at the fast pace that I wanted.” – Jeremy Miller, 18, President, Inspired Blue Media and IDEAvize

“You only need to be in college if you are looking to work in the law or medical fields―otherwise any skill that you want to learn can be learned online at a fraction of the cost.” – Arri Bagah, 20, Facebook Marketing Specialist,

Why Traditional Education Has Lost Its Luster

Unengaging Curriculum
51% of students grades 5-12 are not engaged or are actively disengaged at school
In 2015, only 54% of college freshman and 61% of seniors felt challenged to do their best work

High Cost of Education
The cost of 4-year public education increased 151.1% between the 1978-79 and 2016-17 enrollment years
In that same time the median family income only increased by 20.2%

Between 2004 and 2014:
92% increase in student loan borrowers
74% increase in average student debt

Gen Z wants to avoid the student debt that buried Millennials—1 in 5 say debt should be avoided at all costs

More Alternatives

E-learning (online classes, tutorials, etc.)
By 2025, E-learning will have $325 billion global value
That’s 4X the $70.6 billion market for higher ed.
By 2020, Gen Z will make up 40% of E-learning customers

Programs that Help Young Entrepreneurs:

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE):
Entrepreneurial training for high schoolers from low-income communities

Thiel Fellowship:
$100,000 annually awarded 20 entrepreneurs who skip or put off college for 2 years to start a business

TiE Global:
$10,000 business plan competition that has had 140 participants from 25 schools

Skipping school to become an entrepreneur sounds great, right? But it isn’t the path of the masses―for good reason

The Danger of Following Giants

Legendary dropouts inspire young entrepreneurs

Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College in 1972
Net Worth: $10.2 billion at the time of his death

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975
Net Worth: $84.5 billion

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in 2005
Net Worth: $70 billion

But they don’t want to lead by example

“Although I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success.” -Bill Gates, Gates Notes June 3, 2015

Average Dropout Isn’t Charmed

High School Dropouts
2014 public high school graduation rate: 82.3%

Reasons to Stay
Less than 1% of jobs that require high school diplomas or less have been recovered since the Great Recession
By 2020, ⅔ of all U.S. jobs will require education beyond high school

College Dropouts
6-year graduation rate from 4-year public institutions: 59%

Reasons to Stay
99% of new jobs since the Great Recession have gone to workers with some college education
Workers with bachelor’s degrees or higher receive 57% of all wages

Most Gen-Zers Are Not Ditching the Classroom

61% of students grades 5-12 say they will attend a 4-year college or university after high school
Only 3% say they will start their own business right after high school
Gen Z entrepreneurs plan to use college to further their business goals
Independently investigate new skills and ideas online
Network with other young thinkers

Gen Zers are still getting their degrees—but what they teach themselves outside the classroom might be what helps them change the world

skipping school