Category: students


Work, Gap Year, or Job Training? Why Some Young People Are Deciding Against College

  • March 7, 2023

  • Eyes4Research

The disruption at colleges and universities during the height of the pandemic had a lasting and dramatic effect on college students. In addition to students being required to make the shift to remote learning while their campuses were closed, a recent study conducted by Montclair State University found that students at the university were profoundly affected by stress related to academic and financial issues, as well as COVID itself during lockdown in the spring of 2020. For many, these pressures led to them making the decision to take a break from their studies or drop out of college altogether. 

Some high school students, who dealt with their own stressors while adjusting to a different type of school day during the pandemic, are opting to delay college or choose a different path that doesn’t include earning a college degree, at all. So what is it that is causing students to forgo college, and what are they choosing to do instead? 

The Rising Cost of College

Even before the pandemic upended the lives of college students, the price of education was skyrocketing. According to the most recent College Board’s Trends in College Pricing report, private colleges increased tuition by about $7,000 on average every ten years from 1991 until the pandemic. Over the last 30 years, average private college tuition prices have nearly doubled from $19,360 in 1992 to $38,070. 

The same report reveals that public universities saw a shocking tuition price increase of 158.2% from 1991 to 2021. Many universities have announced plans to increase tuition even further, citing inflationary pressures as a primary reason. Highly selective schools, such as Ivy League institutions are the least likely to be affected by a drop in enrollment because of their increased tuition price tags. Needless to say, the sticker shock of earning a college degree is causing many families to think twice about sending their students to college.

Choosing Work Over Books

While some experts still see an economic slowdown on the horizon, the job market is still strong enough that some students are choosing to earn rather than learn, at least for the time being. Some college students are taking fewer credit hours so they can work more, and others are deciding to leave their coursework behind so they can devote their time to their jobs. In fact, a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that the number of undergraduates currently enrolled is down 6.6% from two years ago– evidence that more young people are choosing to work. 31% of the students polled for the same report specifically cited the strong job market as one of the reasons that they do not plan on finishing school and want to look for a job instead. 

One of the disadvantages of this decision is the fact that studies have shown that college graduates will earn nearly $1 million over the course of their careers. For students who decide to drop out of college or forgo college altogether to work, the loss of potential earnings and to some degree, career advancement limitations, could be significant. 

Career and Technical Education Take Shape

Once known as vocational training, CTE programs are preparing high school students for high-paying jobs around the country. What used to look like home economics or  ‘auto shop’ class, has evolved into a more specialized and sophisticated tool for education reform. Nearly 8.3 million students participated in a CTE program in 2020-2021, up from 7.5 million the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. 

CTE courses range from culinary arts to landscape design and prepare students for high-earning jobs straight out of high school, as well as having the added benefit of boosting graduation rates. In many school districts, these programs partner with local industries to align their course offerings with current labor market needs. Some of these programs even offer a free Associate’s degree, giving students an opportunity to complete the final two years and earn a Bachelor’s degree, if they choose to do so at a later date. 

As disruptive as COVID was for students, it helped bring to light the fact that there are other options for young people who might not be quite ready for college or simply rather take some time to work and decide what they want their future to look like. 

Read more about education and college students on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from college students. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our college student panel, as well as our other specialty panels, here.


Travel Trends: How the Vacation Rental Industry is Changing

  • February 20, 2023

  • Eyes4Research

While it may have taken a while to gain its footing, the short-term rental industry has been growing rapidly, with an increasing number of travelers opting to stay in rented accommodations instead of a traditional hotel. With a wide range of options– from luxury beachside villas to basic apartments located in city centers, vacation rentals have become a popular option for many travelers. Travelers, especially those who travel often, state that vacation rentals are often less expensive than hotels, they offer more privacy and space than hotels, and the rentals allow travelers to ‘feel like a local’, by staying in residential areas. 

A Quick Overview of the Vacation Rental Industry

In recent years, the vacation rental industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. According to a study by ResearchAndMarkets, the global vacation rental market was valued at $169.9 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $220.4 billion by 2024, growing 6.3% over the forecast period.  

According to a report by McKinsey & Company, the vacation rental industry has benefited from the post-pandemic travel boom, as travelers look for more spacious accommodations and more flexibility overall. A different report by Phocuswright revealed that the vacation rental market was expected to continue to grow, as a result of the demand for more alternative forms of accommodations and the rise of online booking platforms. 

The pandemic has changed what people look for when they plan trips and there are a few notable trends to be aware of in order to understand more about what consumers want now when they travel. 

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Travel

Environmentally-aware travel has been part of the tourism landscape for a while, but sustainable travel has reached peak popularity post-COVID. According to a report by TripAdvisor, the trend towards sustainable travel has seen a significant increase in 2022, with 45% of travelers stating that they would choose sustainable or eco-friendly accommodation over a traditional hotel, with an eye toward reducing their carbon footprint while on vacation. Travelers are also increasingly interested in real estate where energy-efficient systems are installed, renewable resources are used, and waste reduction is encouraged is in high demand.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Vacation Rentals

As the world has started to learn to live with COVID, the experience of having lived through the pandemic has had a lasting effect on what travelers are looking for when they look for a place to stay while on vacation. 

  • Increased Demand for Private Accommodation While it is possible to stay in a hotel with some measure of social distancing, many travelers want the added comfort and peace of mind of staying in more secluded and ultra-private spaces. Many vacation rental companies have picked up on this trend and have responded by offering vacationers unique, luxury experiences to accommodate their desire for privacy. Spaces like treehouses, luxury villas with infinity pools, 360-degree view transparent cottages, and luxury wooden huts in forests. 
  • A Shift Towards More Domestic Travel The cancellation of air travel and the restrictions on travel to popular destinations led consumers to think more about destinations closer to home. Flights have long since resumed, but vacationing within the country is still a favored option, as many travelers have chosen to embrace old-fashioned American road trips
  • Focus on Health and Safety Living with COVID-19 doesn’t mean that travelers are not still aware of health and safety while they are on the road. Health and safety are top priorities for travelers. In the recent past, a cozy bed and a free breakfast in a hotel were all it took to win the hearts of travelers.  Now, people want to make sure their accommodations have strict cleaning and disinfection protocols to ensure their safety and ease their minds. 

Increased Demand for Unique, Local Experiences

Travelers are craving special and authentic local experiences as a substitute for stand hotel service. They want an immersive cultural experience, close to where they are staying. According to a report by Airbnb, 60% of travelers stated that they would choose an authentic local activity over a tourist-focused destination. 

Virtual Tours Before Booking

Finally, an up-and-coming trend is consumers being able to virtually tour potential accommodations before they make their reservations. As mentioned earlier, many people are more cautious about health and safety concerns and want to make sure that they are making informed decisions about where they are staying before they make their reservations. While not yet widespread, these 360-degree tours of the interiors and exteriors of rental properties will become more commonplace as more travelers continue to search for alternatives to hotels. 

Read more about the travel industry on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from consumers in the travel audience. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Learn more about our specialty panels here.


Digital Destiny or Digital Bust? 

  • February 20, 2023

  • Eyes4Research

Among the many things that consumers will have to consider in the coming years, but is rarely thought of, is the nature of our money. Let’s face it, since the first coins were minted in Lydia more than 2,500 years ago, little about currency has changed. Paper currency was first introduced during the Song Dynasty in the eleventh century and then the concept slowly made its way to Western Europe by the end of the Middle Ages; yet things haven’t changed much in the last 700 years. Yes, credit cards, debit cards, payment apps, and online payment systems now dominate, making ours the first “cashless society,” yet we may be on the precipice of a major economic evolution from a cashless economy to a truly digital economy. If this change happens, it will have major implications for investors, companies, and consumers, and how different brands position themselves during this transition, particularly how it relates to their customers, will position them for success.

If you follow macroeconomics or consumer and financial trends, then you’ve probably heard about calls for digital currencies. Advocates of digital currencies come from governments, especially central banks, but also some private companies that believe digital currencies will be beneficial for their bottom line. Most people, though, aren’t aware of the potential transition to digital currencies, or even what they are. The biggest barrier to understanding digital currencies usually involves them being confused with electronic currencies. Simply put, today all national currencies are electronic currencies because transactions can be done electronically as well as with physical cash. In theory, digital currencies will also be transacted electronically, but the key difference is that they can only be done electronically. There will be no paper money in digital currencies. Digital currencies have some similarities with crypto currencies, and will utilize many of the same technologies, so it may help to view them through the crypto lens. It’s important to point out that the major difference is that most crypto currencies are decentralized and written with open source codes, while digital currencies will be controlled solely through the central banks that issue them. So now that we know what digital currencies are, let’s look at how they came to be and what impact they could have on future consumer trends.

From Crypto to Central Banks

There’s no doubt that digital currencies are the product of the Computer Age, but the route they took from fringe ideas to a reality has been somewhat circuitous. Computer scientist David Chaum is often thought of as the father of digital money for his efforts to create new, digital technologies. Chaum invented the “blind signature” technology in 1982, which would later play a role in the semi-anonymous nature of crypto currencies. Chaum then used his digital money ideas to start DigiCash, an electronic money corporation that used private and public key cryptography, which are crucial to bitcoin and most other crypto currencies today

Although DigiCash went bankrupt in 1998, it inspired people around the world to devise their own digital cash products. In 2009, the mysterious Satoshi Nakomoto introduced the world to bitcoin, a decentralized, open source digital currency whose transactions and amounts are recorded semi-anonymously on a public ledger known as a blockchain. Many were immediately skeptical of bitcoin – and remain so – especially government actors, but the reality is that the premier cryptocurrency has revolutionized money in the 21st century. Although politicians and central bank officials have bemoaned the lack of control they have over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it hasn’t stopped them from using its technology to set-up their own digital currencies.

Once central banks began envisioning digital currencies – often referred to as central bank digital currency (CBDC) – it became clear that the idea is a long way from reality. Theoretically, a CBDC is a liability of the central bank that issues it and is denominated in the sovereign currency (US dollar, euro, yen, etc.), as is the case with physical banknotes and coins, but all transactions will be recorded and ostensibly tracked by the central bank that issues the “coins.” Although CBDCs will utilize some of the ideas behind cryptocurrency, because they will be controlled by a central bank they will likely not use a distributed ledger or a blockchain

It should be pointed out that much of the information we have about CBDCs are purely theoretically, as few countries have implemented them and those that have are in the early, experimental stages. With that said, China initiated a CBDC pilot program in 2021 that may give American businesses and consumers a taste of what’s to come.

In 2021, 261 million users took part in the Chinese CBDC trial who made more than $13.8 billion in transactions. The Chinese government has publicly stated that the pilot has been a success and revealed plans to expand it, which may mark the beginning of a trend, but it’s important to note that China’s early CBDC success has not been the case in every country. Ecuador’s central bank scrapped its CBDC plans, and central banks’ plans to develop even pilot programs have been moving at a glacial pace

The Pros and Cons of a Digital Dollar for Consumers and Businesses 

As American politicians, economists, businesses, and bankers debate the merits of a digital dollar, it’s important to objectively exam some of its possible drawbacks and benefits for consumers and businesses. Small businesses will see immediate benefits from a digital dollar, as deposits from point of sale transactions will be instant, or nearly instant, as opposed to the one to three day lag that is standard today.

The digital dollar’s quicker deposits and transaction times will be just one feature of what is believed to be a generally more convenient form of currency. Because transactions will be done through “digital wallets,” consumers won’t have to worry about carrying cash or the right credit card. Digital wallets will be stored on phones, so transactions will be as easy as scanning a QR code

The cons of a potential digital dollar include security, surveillance, and more costs. Computer experts have pointed out that because by nature CBDCs will be centralized, they are subject to “single point failures,” unlike decentralized crypto currencies. The centralized nature of the digital dollar has also worried privacy advocates, libertarians, and those generally fearful of government overreach, as they argue that the digital dollar could be used as surveillance tool because all transactions could be tracked. Additionally, experts believe that the technology required to make a digital dollar run smoothly will translate to higher costs, which will be passed off to the consumer in the form of higher fees. So, there are plenty of reasons for consumers and businesses to be excited, or not, about a digital dollar, but the important question remains: should we start preparing our digital wallets?

The Reality of the Digital Dollar

Whether or not the digital dollar becomes a reality will depend on many factors including government/political will and consumers’ and businesses’ acceptance of any scheme. The infrastructure and knowledge is there and government and non-government actors have begun experimental steps. In February 2022, the Boston Fed and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed the results from two tests they conducted of a high-performance transaction processor that was able to handle 1.7 million transactions of a fictional CBDC per second. In November 2022, the New York Fed did its own digital currency experiment that used distributed ledger technology, although it’s still too early to know the results.

In addition to the technological knowledge, there does appear to be some political will to institute the digital dollar. President Biden and the Democrats have shown some support for the digital dollar, with Biden signing the executive order, “Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets,” which instructs government agencies to produce reports on a digital dollar. But an executive order is a long way from a law and with Congress routinely switching control between parties it doesn’t appear the digital dollar will become a reality anytime soon.

Although the US central bank probably won’t adopt the digital dollar in the near future, consumers and businesses can still benefit from its adoption in other countries. As China moves forward with its CBDC, more countries will follow, which may open investment opportunities and make international travel easier and cheaper. Some experts also believe that as CBDCs expand slowly but surely, and the more they are talked about, it will lead to greater investment in cryptocurrencies. American consumers may not see any immediate benefits from CBDCs, but those who think ahead and outside the box could benefit. 


The Spending Power of College Students

  • January 17, 2023

  • Eyes4Research

With the costs of college tuition on the rise, there is a growing list of other necessities that college students need to keep up with their studies and keep themselves ready for the rigors of university life. So what are college students spending their money on, and how much do they spend? 

There are currently more than 21 million college students in the United States, with a purchasing power of nearly $600 billion that is largely centered on education and discretionary spending. The money that college students are spending is sometimes subsidized by their parents, but many students also juggle both school and a job in order to supplement their income, with some students working full-time. An increasing number of college students are paying for their own education, at least in part, with a recent OppLoans study finding that 74 percent of Millennials who responded stated that they contributed to funding their own college education. 

To no one’s surprise, college students spend a lot of their budget on food. Students spend an average of $547 each month on food, including groceries, meal delivery services, and restaurants. For scale, the average American now spends about $402.64 per month on groceries. Some students prefer to eat on campus, and their meal plans cost an average of $563 per month.  Like most people who are active on social media, college students are not immune to wanting to see and be seen at restaurants that are considered ‘Instagram-worthy’, and spend their money at status-adjacent spots with their friends. Poor food quality and boredom with the school cafeteria menu are the main reasons students choose to dine off-campus.  Alcohol and coffee are high on the list, with nearly $500 per year being spent on alcohol by college students. 

Students are also spending a considerable amount of money on clothing, personal care, electronics, and entertainment/media. It is estimated that students will have spent close to $10 billion on clothing by the time the 2021-2022 academic year ends. Skincare products, makeup, and salon visits all figure into college students’ monthly personal care expenses. The pandemic led to students spending $45 more on electronics in 2021 than they had in the previous year, with these items becoming essential during campus lockdowns. It is estimated that this academic year, college students will spend about $2.4 billion on entertainment, which includes, concert tickets, video games, gear, and subscription services. 

There is one area that students are spending less on– actual coursework materials. This year, college students are spending more on technology than they are on the materials for their classes, with students spending 26 percent less than the previous year on the same items. Across the board, college students are being assigned more free content by their professors. 

Read more about education and college students on the Eyes4Research blog. Eyes4Research also has everything you need to collect high-quality insights from college students. Our panels are comprised of B2B, B2C, and specialty audiences ready to participate in your next research project. Read more about our specialty panels here.