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Survey Finds Millennial Parents Supportive of DIY Approach to Education, Diverse School Options

Tech-savvy millennial generation enters parenthood, views K-12 education through new lens


Baltimore, Md. (Aug. 25, 2016) – Millennials are now the largest living generation in the country*. One of the most studied and analyzed generations, millennials are now becoming parents. According to a Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research report published in 2015, 43 percent of children age 0-17 had Millennial parents in 2014, and this figure is expected to exceed 50 percent in 2016. A new independent survey of U.S. households, supported by Connections Education, found that millennials are supportive of alternative approaches to education, with three-fourths of millennial parents (77 percent) saying a DIY approach to education, in which learners craft a path to graduation that best fits their needs, is a good idea.

“The millennial generation flipped the workplace on its head, and all signs point to them breaking the status quo for education as well,” said Steven Guttentag, president and co-founder of Connections Education. “Compared to older generations, this generation of parents has more experience in education options beyond brick and mortar schools, such as online courses and blended learning. As a result, we’re finding they’re more open to and supportive of different education options.”

Video: Connections Co-founder Discusses Millennial Education Survey

The vast majority of Americans, 76 percent, feel that K-12 public school students should be able to choose tuition-free online learning options to meet a student’s learning needs, according to the survey, and nearly all millennial parents (92 percent) are of the opinion that students should be able to choose tuition-free online learning options.

Video: Survey Finds Millennial Parents Supportive of Diverse School Options

Across all generations, exposure to online learning has a significant impact on whether someone views public online schools favorably, and unsurprisingly, the survey found that millennial respondents—the generation that came of age with the internet—have the highest exposure to online coursework.

  • 55 percent of millennials and 48 percent of millennial parents have taken an online course, compared to 45 and 25 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomer non-parents and 41 and 31 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomer parents, respectively.
  • Millennial parents (35 percent) are most likely to have or know someone with a child who is enrolled in online public school.
  • A majority of millennial parents (51 percent) think that high school students should be required to take at least one online course, and are more likely to be of the opinion that the option to take all courses online should be available.

“We live in a technologically advanced world and our kids need to be savvy with computers, and everything my daughter does through her schooling can carry her into college and beyond,” said Rozanna Eckstein, a millennial parent of an online school student. “Everything is in your hand now, so the more advanced she can get, the more advanced she’ll be for her future and, ultimately, prepared for a successful path into adulthood. I believe online school gives her that. Everything is structured to what I feel is the future, and the future is technology.”

Beyond being supportive of online learning options, 8-in-10 millennial parents agree that online schools have the potential to personalize education. Also, those who have taken (or are taking) online coursework and those who express support for tuition-free online learning are much more likely to agree that online options offer more personalization. This reinforces the idea that exposure to online learning positively impacts attitudes toward online learning.

“Not every child learns the same. That’s the great thing about online school, and I think people are starting to realize that,” said Michael Tobeck, a millennial parent based in Oregon.

Infographic: Millennial Parents Support DIY Education Options

The results are based on a nationwide online survey of U.S. adults that was fielded by ORC International in April 2016. In total, 1,020 respondents took part in the survey, with an associated margin of error of +/- 3.07%. All results were analyzed using key demographic and attitudinal breaks, including age/generation by children in the household, gender, level of education, income and exposure to online learning. The data presented in this report have been statistically balanced to ensure that the results are in line with overall U.S. population figures for age, gender and ethnicity.

About Connections Education
Connections Education is a leading provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual education solutions for students in grades K–12. Founded in 2001, the company’s Connections Academy delivers individualized learning to students by supporting tuition-free virtual public schools. In the 2015–2016 school year, Connections Academy supported 30 virtual public schools in 26 states—serving more than 65,000 students. Connections Education offers a fully online private school for students worldwide and delivers blended (combination of online and on-site) learning in select states via tuition-free, public, Nexus Academy schools. The Connections Learning by Pearson division meets the needs of schools, school districts, and other institutions with a full range of digital learning solutions for grades K–12 including: online courses, a program for homebound students, a digital learning platform, and private and public online schools. Connections Education is based in Baltimore, Maryland and was named a 2015 and 2014 “Top Workplace” by the Baltimore Sun and a 2013 “Best Place to Work” by Baltimore magazine. Connections Education is part of the global learning company Pearson.