Study Evaluates College Preparedness One Year Out

What wisdom one year can bring. If college freshmen could go back and do high school all over again, they’d work harder – and take harder classes.

That is, according to a new study by College Board, which asked recent high school graduates to assess their high school experience and its role in preparing them for life after graduation – college or otherwise.

The report, called "One Year Out," found that 44% of surveyed graduates wished they had taken more math, science, and writing-intensive course work to better prepare themselves for college classes. Nearly half (47%) were kicking themselves for not working harder in high school, and the majority (54%) found that college courses were more difficult than expected in terms of what students needed to know and what was required to get good grades.

Beyond preparing them for the rigors of college, many students also said their high school should have done a better job of teaching them financial skills, writing resumes, conducting a job interview and finding financial aid.

The organizers of "One Year Out" called the study a "call to action."

“These candid assessments provide critical firsthand insight into how high schools serve – and in some ways shortchange – their graduates,” College Board president Gaston Caperton said in a statement.

Now, is it the school’s fault that you took a second study hall instead of chemistry or AP calculus? Liz Dywer thinks so. The study prompted the education writer at Good to question why schools don’t up the requirements across the board, increasing the number of years spent in high school on English, math, history, social studies and foreign language, so that when the class of 2020 reflects on its high school experience, students don’t give similar responses.

Some of the graduates surveyed, given the hindsight, would agree with Dwyer, too. According to the study, a third (37%) of those surveyed said the requirements for getting their diplomas should have been more difficult. And when asked whether or not they wanted high school more rigorous, the majority (69%) said graduation requirements were "very" or "pretty" easy.

Other key results of the inaugural survey found that an overwhelming majority (86%) feel that a college degree is worth the time and money – that number only dropped to 76% for those not currently enrolled in college – and, at 90%, most surveyed students said that high school is not enough and that graduates should go on to complete some kind of education or training after high school.

Given the rising costs of bachelor’s degree, it should come as no surprise that the study also found that five in nine students who attended college said that affording it was very or pretty challenging. Of those who did not attend college, 56% said affordability was the key factor.

The study was based off a national sample of 1,507 respondents, all of whom graduated from high school in 2010.

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