Most high school grads feel their skills aren't up to par

Most high school grads feel their skills aren’t up to par


Family, friends, and educators help students make decisions, develop confidence, and identify personal aptitudes as they leave high school

Most high school graduates (75 percent) do not feel prepared to make college or career decisions after graduation, according to a survey from YouScience, a college and career readiness company.

The national online survey,  Post-Graduation Readiness Report, polled more than 500 students from the 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 high school graduation classes.

There is a tremendous opportunity for high schools to impact students’ college and career readiness, and most of the respondents (62 percent) felt that it is one of schools’ responsibilities. Despite that, 41 percent felt unprepared to make a career choice or declare a college major upon graduation, and 30 percent were not following any planned educational or career path. For 57 percent of the graduates, family and friends had the greatest impact on their college and career decision-making.

At a time when many industry leaders report that their top challenge is the limited supply of talent and nearly six million people in the U.S. are unemployed, the survey highlights the opportunity to better inform and engage our future talent pool.

Representing our most recent graduates of the past four years, the survey found 42 percent of the respondents lacking confidence or only slightly confident in their chosen career or education, while another 33 percent felt only moderately confident. The survey also revealed that more than one-third (37 percent) of the graduates — regardless of their current education or career — are still not sure they are where they want to be.

Noteworthy survey findings include:

There are varying degrees of post-secondary education and career preparation in today’s high schools

  • Of the 42 percent of graduates that felt unconfident or slightly confident upon graduation about pursuing their chosen post-high school educational or career pathway:
    • 72 percent reported that they were rarely or only sometimes exposed to a variety of career options that could be pursued
    • 64 percent had 5 or fewer conversations with teachers or counselors about the various post-high school opportunities available
  • Of the 24 percent of graduates that felt very or extremely confident in their chosen career or educational pathway upon graduation:
    • 81 percent reported that they were often or sometimes exposed to a variety of career options that could be pursued
    • 47 percent had anywhere from 5-20 conversations with teachers or counselors about the various post-high school opportunities available

Aptitude assessments are still not widely available, but students feel they would be helpful to engage them in their learning

  • Only 16 percent of graduates reported taking an aptitude assessment to help prepare them for “what’s next”
  • Nearly 80 percent of graduates felt they would have been more engaged in their learning if they better understood their own aptitudes and potential career opportunities

“Education leaders and industry must come together to help our students better understand themselves and their opportunities beyond high school,” said Edson Barton, Founder and CEO of YouScience.

“Career guidance and exposure are a critical part of student development. We need to provide this support as early as eighth grade, beginning with helping students understand their natural aptitudes and talents, and how that translates to career fit. In addition, we need to showcase career opportunities beyond the obvious. If students rely on family and friends for direction, they can be limited in their dreams and fail to fulfill their potential. In large part, our talent gap is also a career exposure gap.”

This press release originally appeared online.

Related:
Why self-discovery increases college and career success
Arne Duncan: College completion–not simply access–critical to nation’s future

Laura Ascione
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