STATE OF AMERICA
Saying No To College – The idea that a college diploma is an all-but-mandatory ticket to a successful career is showing fissures. Feeling squeezed by a sagging job market and mounting student debt, a groundswell of university-age heretics are pledging allegiance to new groups like UnCollege, dedicated to “hacking” higher education. Inspired by billionaire role models and empowered by online college courses, they consider themselves a D.I.Y. vanguard, committed to changing the perception of dropping out from a personal failure to a sensible option, at least for a certain breed of risk-embracing maverick. Risky? Perhaps. But it worked for the founders of Twitter, Tumblr and a little company known as Apple. “Education isn’t a four-year program,” Benjamin Goering, a recent college dropout who now works for a company run by another dropout, said. “It’s a mind-set.”
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
Under One Roof, Building for Extended Families – The blueprints of American homes are changing in order to accommodate the new shape of the American family: boomer couples with boomerang children and aging parents, an increasingly multiethnic population with a tradition of housing three generations under one roof, and even singles who may need to double up with siblings or friends in this fraught economic climate. These families are demanding new homes within in homes that have shared and private spaces. Scott Thomas, national director of product development for Pulte Group, the largest homebuilder in the United States, said his company now offers layouts with larger “flex rooms” and an over-the-garage apartment it calls the Grand Retreat. Ryland and KB Homes have been offering similar alternatives, and have seen their popularity increase as multigenerational households become more common.
Modamily – When marriage is no longer an entry point to have a family, what’s a successful, spouse-less person to do who wants a baby, but has a biological clock that’s running out? When assessing the options, most people tend to think of an anonymous sperm donor, or even “settling” and rushing into marriage. But recently, a shift towards co-parenting has become a societal force to be reckoned with – more common among same-sex couples and outside the US, this child-rearing set-up is taking hold with domestic, heterosexual couples. If the old adage goes, “There is a lid to every pot” can one assume there is also a mother figure for every father figure that lack only the means to find one another? With the family structure consistently being redefined, elective co-parenting is on the rise. With Modamily, a New York-based private social network for people looking to co-parent a child within the US, CEO and founder Ivan Fatovic is hoping the US will follow suit: “What Modamily wants to do is start a national conversation and make people aware that co-parenting is a viable option.”
Social Media Is The New Recruitment Tool – As people’s personal and professional life starts to blur, candidates look to social media to help them stand out. Research shows that recruiters spend an average of only six seconds looking at each resume they consider, as resumes, even those chock full of accomplishments, look indistinguishable from one to the next. Even interviews only provide a small window of time for a candidate to show who they are. But now with social media, being active on these platforms allows an employer to see who the candidate really is. For this reason, there’s an increasing interest in having students put together social media portfolios. A candidate can easily link their résumé to their Tumblr blog, website or even Flickr account. Whether or not someone works in an industry where building online influence matters (i.e. public relations, marketing or sales), over the next decade people will be hired and promoted based upon their social reputation capital. Danielle Hohmeier utilized Twitter as a way to secure a job. “I wanted employers to know I was comfortable in that space and give them a chance to get to know me beyond my resume and cover letter, ” she said. “Plus, I figured that if I sent in a resume and they had already interacted with me on Twitter, then I would have some advantage over other candidates.”
ON THE RADAR
Know This: Stayover Couples – With more people choosing to live alone and not get married, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have noticed an increase in stayover relationships among college-educated adults ages 18-29. Stayover couples maintain separate residences but stay at the partner’s place as often as 3-7 times a week. This arrangement serves as a convenient alternative to more lasting commitments such as full cohabitation or marriage. Read more about the study here.
Watch This: For those who want to say no to college, the Thiel Fellowship serves as a viable alternative. Founded by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, the Thiel Fellowship believes young people should be actively chasing breakthrough technologies instead of wasting their time and money passively studying in college. The fellowship brings together some of the world’s most creative young people and helps bring their most ambitious ideas to life. Chosen fellows are given two years and a $100,000 grant to skip college and instead focus on their work, research and self-education.
Market Observation: With defined gender roles fading away, we are noting a rise in gender-neutral toys. Mattel, the world’s largest toy-maker, will soon introduce the Mega Bloks Barbie Build’n Style – the first Barbie construction set in the doll’s 50-year history. Walmart’s VP of Toys Anne Marie Kehoe explained that by the end of this year construction toys for girls will present nearly 20% of the construction toy category. This shift is a response to gender stereotypes as well as the fact that fathers are increasingly buying toys.