One of the most studied and analyzed generations, millennials are now becoming parents. According to a recent research report, 43 percent of children age 0-17 had millennial parents in 2014, and this figure is expected to exceed 50 percent in 2016.
And when it comes to their children’s education, millennials are bringing new notions and expectations, likely influenced by their strong familiarity with digital technologies.
A new independent survey of U.S. households, and about 1,200 adults, supported by Connections Education, a virtual education provider, 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.
“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,” said Steven Guttentag, president and co-founder of Connections Education.
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.
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 high school students should be required to take at least one online course, and are more likely to believe 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.
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%. Additional info is available online.