College Expectations and Your Strategic Academic Plan

Vol. 14 No. 5

trustees eletter vol14 no5 collegeacceptance

The recent PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools indicates shifting attitudes concerning the value of higher education. According to the survey, fewer than half of the parent respondents (48%) considered college education as “very important.”

Perhaps more important, 45% of all parents said it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely” that they would be able to pay for college for their oldest child. Yet 76% “agree” or “strongly agree” that their child plans to attend college. Parents are now, more than ever, questioning the value of a college education against the cost.

According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep/Money survey, only one in five parents of prospective college students (21%) considers the cost of a four-year college degree worth “the value it delivers.” Based on these survey findings, it’s safe to assume that most college students today will accrue college loan debt to complete their education.

How, then, do parents value a college education? They believe that attending college can better prepare their child for today’s workforce. Only 16% of the parents surveyed “strongly agree” that a high school graduate is prepared for employment, while 51% “agree” or “strongly agree” that a college graduate is ready. However, only 10% “strongly agree” that even college graduates are fully prepared for today’s working world.

According to a recent Economic Policy Institute report, The Class of 2015: Despite an Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face an Uphill Climb, the unemployment rate for young graduates is extremely high today (7.2%, compared with 5.5% in 2007). The underemployment rate is even higher (14.9% compared with 9.6% in 2007). The wages of young college graduates are comparatively low in today’s job market—2.5% lower than in 2000.

A college graduate may have more opportunity in the workforce than a high school graduate, but a degree does not necessarily guarantee a job, much less a higher salary. And, considering most students leave college with student loan debt, the financial burden for graduates can be overwhelming.

So, what does all of this mean for your school? Simply that the education your school provides must be more than college preparation—even if you’re specifically deemed a college-preparatory school. If your school takes pride in its college placement, perhaps it's time to reevaluate that emphasis. Perhaps a better strategy is to focus on the success of your postcollege alumni.

The question comes down to your school’s mission and the purpose of the education you provide. Emphasis should not be on good “testing” results so much as on developing each student’s character and innate abilities. Parents send their children to your school for preparation of the “whole” student, not just preparation for college. Always keep that in the forefront of your decision-making.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Trustees Vol. 14 No. 1 Student College and Career Readiness

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
Webinar: Dropping APs: Why Do It and How to Know When You Are Ready

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