Although most American parents want their children to complete a bachelor’s degree, a significant number of families would like other options for their students, according to a new national survey.
The opinion poll, which was released last week by Gallup and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, found that 46 percent of respondents preferred an alternate postsecondary path for their child, such as community college, skill training, military service, or paid employment.
In addition, although 84 percent of parents of current middle and high school students said they were satisfied with the four-year college, two-year college, and/or technical training programs currently available, 45 percent wished more alternatives were offered.
The survey was conducted in late 2020 with a random sample of nearly 3,000 US parents of children between the ages of 11 and 25.
LaVerne Evans Srinivasan, a vice president with Carnegie, called the results “sobering” in an introductory letter to Family Voices: Building Pathways from Learning to Meaningful Work. The publication breaks down the new survey results and takes a close look at postsecondary options and barriers.
“While attending a four-year college remains the gold standard for many families, nearly half of parents of current middle and high school students wish that more postsecondary options existed. And even among parents who hope their children will earn a bachelor’s degree, 40 percent are interested in skills- and work-focused training opportunities such as internships or apprenticeships,” Srinivasan wrote.
“The message from the data is clear: We need to expand and strengthen postsecondary pathways so that young people are exposed to the world of work before graduating from high school and have access to a robust array of career-related learning opportunities afterwards,” Srinivasan continued. “…We need to provide better guidance to students as they consider next steps after high school, and we need a seamless education system that supports students at critical transition points from high school to postsecondary learning and to their first good job.”
Mary Stegmeir is a freelance writer and editor. She formerly served as NACAC’s assistant director for editorial content and outreach.