Survey: Young Adults Believe in the Value of Higher Education: But College Participation Still Not Commonplace for Most Black, Hispanic Students, Compared to Asian, White Peers

Article excerpt

NEW YORK

A new national survey of young adults ages 18 to 25 finds that the vast majority of today's young adults--be they African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian American or White--strongly believe in the value of higher education. The survey, "Life After High School: Young People Talk about Their Hopes and Prospects," was conducted by the nonprofit, nonpartisan opinion research organization Public Agenda. Most of the young adults surveyed say that their parents inspired the goal of going to college and most had a teacher in high school who took a strong personal interest in them and encouraged them to go on to college.

But the study raises serious questions about the shortage of high-school counselors and the economic pressures and trade-offs many young adults lace, especially those from minority backgrounds. It also portrays the uncertain, hit-or-miss career path experienced by many young people who enter the work force without a two-year or four-year college or technical degree.

Money plays a big role in decisions about Where--or whether--to go to college. Nearly half of young people who don't continue their education after high school cite lack of money, the wish to earn money or having other responsibilities as reasons why they don't go. "Life After High School" also shows that while money is not a factor in college selection for most young White Americans (60 percent), it is for most young African Americans and Hispanics. Sixty percent of both groups say that they would have attended a different college if money were not an issue. About half (51 percent) of young Asian Americans say this as well.

The survey raises troubling concerns about the prospects for young workers without college degrees. Compared to those who have a two- or four-year degree, these less-educated workers fell into their jobs more by chance than by choice and far fewer think of their job as a career. …