Survey: Most high school students feel unprepared for college, careers

Liv Ames for EdSourceLiv Ames for EdSourceFewer than half of high school students across the country feel they’re ready for college and careers, even though these remain top goals for students, according to a survey released Thursday.
Results from a multi-year College and Career Readiness survey of 165,000 high school students conducted by YouthTruth, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, found that 45 percent of students feel positive about their college and career readiness.
An overwhelming number of students, 87 percent, want to eventually earn a college degree and land a career. But many believe that their schools aren’t helping them develop the skills they’ll need to succeed after graduation.
“We saw a number of different results in this survey,” said Jen Vorse Wilka, executive director at YouthTruth. “While it’s encouraging to see the proportion of students with high college and career expectations, most do not feel prepared to do so.”
About 56 percent believe their schools have helped them understand the steps they will need to take in order to apply to college. Meanwhile, about 46 percent said schools have helped them figure out which careers match their interests and abilities.
The survey of juniors and seniors was conducted from the 2010-11 through the 2014-15 school years. More than 260 schools across 31 states partnered with YouthTruth.
Vorse Wilka said the participating schools represent a cross-section of all high schools in the country, with students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Survey results by state are not yet available.
YouthTruth was launched in 2008 by the Center for Effective Philanthropy and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with the goal of better measuring school reforms from the perspective of students.
“While it’s encouraging to see the proportion of students with high college and career expectations, most do not feel prepared to do so.”
Juniors and seniors took the 30-minute online survey that asked a series of questions about their views on college and career readiness.
Students were also asked whether they used their school’s support services to help them achieve their future goals. Here are some of those results.
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42 percent used college entrance exam preparation.
36 percent used counseling for help on future career possibilities.
34 percent used counseling for help on college admissions requirements.
32 percent used counseling for help on applying for college.
23 percent used counseling for help on paying for college.
“One goal for the survey is to prompt some questions for schools themselves,” Vorse Wilka said.
Schools can use the survey results, she said, to determine whether they need to increase counseling, career training or college preparation services, or if they have them in place already, what they can do to increase the number of students they reach.
“At a time when more high school graduates are enrolling in college and looking for work, we hope that these findings will help schools across the country recognize opportunities to better prepare students for a successful future,” she said.
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