Given the growing importance of higher education, experts say that millennials – individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 – who do not go to college will almost surely face many obstacles throughout their lives. As Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce put it, "It's remarkable how much trouble they're in," The Associated Press (AP) reports.
Fewer Job Opportunities
For millennials who choose not to go to college, one of the biggest repercussions can be fewer job opportunities. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports that in 2007, almost 60% of all American jobs required applicants to have at least some college experience. This percentage continues to rise steadily, and by 2018, the Center expects 62% of all jobs to demand employees with at least some college courses under their belts.
"It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education," Carnevale said in a statement. "At a time when more and more people are debating the value of postsecondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree."
Even if high school-educated millennials find a job, chances are their salaries will be much lower than they would be if they had a college degree.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2011, high school graduates earned an average of $638 per week. At the same time, associate's degree holders earned about $768 per week, while bachelor's degree holders made $1,053 per week.
For many millennials without college degrees, these figures represent a grim reality. Brian Haney, a 31-year-old unemployed Philadelphia resident with only a high school diploma, knows this all too well.
"I don't see a future or an ability to retire," Haney told the AP. "There'll be one low-wage job after another ahead of me. It's just a nightmare."
As high school graduates tend to find fewer job opportunities and earn lower salaries, they often find themselves in a constant socioeconomic struggle. Carnevale told The New York Times that only one-third of high school jobs that provide family-sustaining earnings of at least $35,000 per year still exist. Therefore, millennials with only a high school diploma tend to struggle to enter the middle class, and pave the way for their children to battle the same issues.