College & Workforce Readiness

Only 3 Percent of Adults Think High School Grads Are ‘Very Prepared’ for College

By Catherine Gewertz — April 25, 2018 1 min read
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Looking for a vote of confidence in U.S. high schools? You might have to look pretty hard. Only 3 percent of adults think students are “very prepared” for college when they graduate from high school, according to a Gallup survey released Wednesday.

They’re not too keen on high schools as workplace-preparation machines, either. Only 5 percent of the adults polled said they think high school graduates are very prepared to enter the workforce.

Commissioned by the organization Communities in Schools, the survey dwells as much on solutions to the problem than on the problem itself. But Brandon Busteed, who oversees education and workforce issues for Gallup, acknowledged in a blog post that the findings “paint a rather dreary picture of the performance of our education system.”

The results get rosier when the bar is lowered. One-quarter of those polled think high school grads are prepared or very prepared for college, and 22 percent think they’re prepared or very prepared for work.

Results were consistent across groups by gender, income, ethnicity and level of education, Gallup reports. But they vary a bit by age group: Younger respondents were more likely than older ones to say students were “not at all prepared” for life after high school.

Financial planning and life skills topped the list of respondents’ suggestions for improving students’ college readiness, followed by financial assistance and academic support. To improve their workplace readiness, the most frequently suggested fix was offering internships, job shadowing, and entrepreneurship opportunities, followed by skills training.

The poll is based on telephone interviews last month with a random sample of 1,500 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.