Report: Parents, Students Split on College, Work Readiness

Seventy-three percent of parents of college students think high school prepared their kids for college very or extremely well, according to a new report from Achieve, but just over half, 53 percent, of college students said the same.

Researchers found an even starker difference when they asked parents, employers and college instructors if high schools are doing an at least somewhat satisfying job of preparing students for success after graduation. Eighty-four percent of parents said they were at least somewhat satisfied, while only 56 percent of employers and a meager 35 percent of college instructors polled said the same.

"Parents are more likely than faculty, employers, or even students to believe that their children are ready for their next steps upon graduation from high school," said Sandy Boyd, chief operating officer of Achieve, in a prepared statement. "Part of the disconnect between parents and others is that parents lack the information they need to guide their students. Parents report wanting more communication from schools to better understand what their children need to be ready and how they can help."

Other key findings of "Rising to the Challenge: Are Recent High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work?" include:

  • 79 percent of parents told surveyors that higher academic standards would have better prepared their children for college or work;
  • 60 percent of students who responded said they would have worked harder in high school had they known then what they know now about work and college, and two thirds of parents surveyed said they would be more involved in their child's high school education if they had it to do over again;
  • Nearly all parents, 96 percent, told researchers that what a student needs to learn in high school today is at least somewhat different than 20 years ago with a solid majority, 62 percent, saying that requirements are very different;
  • Young adults not in college were more likely, at 56 percent, than their parents, at 45 percent, to say they were very or extremely well prepared by high school for work;
  • Only one-third of surveyed parents said their child's high school set high academic standards. Fifty percent said standards were moderate and 17 percent said they were low; and
  • Regarding specific skills, surveyed parents were most likely to say they were satisfied with the computer and technology education their kids received in high school, at about 85 percent. Preparation for working in a team came in second at 82 percent and verbal communication was third at 80 percent. Writing, mathematics, problem solving and science tied for fourth at 74 percent each.

"Parents have an enormous impact on the academic success of their children, but they need to be equipped with better information about what it takes to succeed after high school," added Boyd.

The full report is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at

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