COVID-19 has caused a marked shift in attitudes toward higher education, particularly among high school students who are rethinking their options as they look ahead to a future career path that remains in flux due to the pandemic’s impact on the workforce and economy. While exacerbated over the past year, this was a trend we were seeing in the United States even before our nation went under lockdown.
Data from ECMC Group’s Question The Quo surveys fielded throughout the pandemic show more than half of students are open to something other than four-year college and the majority want to forge their own educational path.
In addition, while more than half of teens believe they can be successful with education they can complete in three years or less, a majority feel uninformed when it comes to their options, with 63 percent wanting their high school to provide more information about the variety of postsecondary education routes. Parents are also looking for options that stray from the four-year path, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Unfortunately, high school counselors charged with educating students and parents about their postsecondary options also feel uninformed. I recently conducted a study of high school counselors, asking about their knowledge and perceptions of postsecondary options. Less than 35 percent stated that they have sufficient time to expose their students to the many postsecondary options available. In addition, when asked about their knowledge of postsecondary pathways, less than half feel they have an above-average knowledge about options other than four-year college.
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