Young people give mediocre marks to America’s high schools but put great faith in its colleges.
A new Associated Press-Viacom poll suggests most high schools are failing to give students a solid footing for the working world or strong guidance toward college, at a time when many students fear graduation means tumbling into an economic black hole.
Most of the 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed gave high schools low grades for things that would ease the way to college: A majority say their school wasn’t good at helping them choose a field of study, aiding them in finding the right college or vocational school or assisting them in coming up with ways to pay for more schooling.
If schools did these things better, it could make a significant difference, because young people already are enthusiastic about higher education. Two-thirds say students should aim for college, even if they aren’t sure yet what career they want to pursue. Almost as many say they want to get at least a four-year degree themselves.
The majority of high school students probably won’t end up with a college degree, however. Among those a few years ahead of them—today’s 25- to 34-year-olds—only about a third hold a bachelor’s or higher degree, according to the Census Bureau. Less than 10 percent get an associate’s degree.
So getting students ready for work remains central to high schools’ mission. And most young people say their school didn’t do a good job of preparing them for work or helping them choose a future career. They also give high schools low marks on exposing them to the latest technology in their field and helping them get work experience, according to the poll conducted in partnership with Stanford University.