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New College Board Research: 86 Percent of Young Americans Believe College Is Essential

One year after graduating from high school, most members of the class of 2010 believe earning a college degree is "definitely" worth it, according to a survey released today by the College Board.

September 1, 2011
Related Topics: Technology, Learning and Development

New York — Aug. 30

One year after graduating from high school, most members of the class of 2010 believe earning a college degree is "definitely" worth it, according to a survey released by the College Board, a not-for-profit organization. The comprehensive survey on college readiness and affordability, “One Year Out,” explores how young Americans assess their high school experience and its role in preparing them for life after graduation.

The majority of 2010 high school graduates look back positively on their time in high school, expressing satisfaction both with the collective experience and on a variety of specific measures. Particularly, 44 percent of students surveyed wished they had taken different courses in high school, specifically more math, science and writing-intensive course work to prepare for the rigors of college and the workforce. Nearly half (47 percent) said they wished they had worked harder in high school, and more than a third (37 percent) said the requirements for graduating high school should be made more difficult.

Key findings of the survey also include:

  • One year out of high school graduation, a majority (86 percent) feel that a college degree is worth the time and money — including a majority not currently enrolled in college (76 percent).
  • A majority (90 percent) agree with the statement: "In today's world, high school is not enough, and nearly everybody needs to complete some kind of education or training after high school."
  • In the current economy, 66 percent said they are very (22 percent) or somewhat (44 percent) optimistic that people in their generation will have good opportunities for jobs and careers, while 33 percent said they are worried about this. Seven in 10 members of the class of 2010 said a college degree will help them a lot in fulfilling their career aspirations, and another 18 percent said a degree will help somewhat.
  • Cost was the biggest challenge faced in transition to college. Five in nine students who attended college said affording it was challenging. Of those who did not attend college, 56 percent said affordability was a key factor.
  • A majority (54 percent) reported that their college courses were more difficult than expected. And 24 percent said they were required to take noncredit remedial or developmental courses by their college, including 37 percent of those who went to a two-year college; 16 percent reported they did not complete the full year of their college program.
  • Students wish their high schools had given more practical career readiness and more basic preparation for how to engage in a college environment — including how to manage personal finances.

Source: The College Board

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