Laura Telander Graf on the pressure of post-high school pathways

Thought leaders share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at SXSW EDU 2023

Gen Z teens need to take the education and career path that’s right for them, according to Laura Telander Graf, senior director of public relations and thought leadership, ECMC Group.

WorkingNation sat down with Telander Graf at SXSW EDU 2023 in Austin.

ECMC Group created a campaign – Question the Quo – to help young students explore their options. “Through our work across the postsecondary education landscape, we found that there was a lack of information about programs beyond the four-year degree. The four-year degree works wonderfully for a lot of students. For a lot of students, that just isn’t the way that they want to learn after high school. This campaign is all about empowering them and really broadening that aperture about the many pathways to financial and career success,” explains Telander Graf.

She says that surveys conducted by her organization have revealed students have concerns about their post-high school plans. “While more than 85% of high schoolers feel pressure to go the four-year path, less than half want to do so.”

“We’re also finding that this decision of what they’re going to do after high school weighs on them quite heavily. Eighty percent of high schoolers – ninth grade through 12th grade – are thinking about their path after high school every week. More than half think about it every single day. This is a big decision.”

She notes the pressure experienced by underserved students, in particular, is self-directed.

Learn more about ECMC Group.
Learn more about Question the Quo.