What happens to students after they graduate from high school? In an effort to better understand their experiences and what influenced their post-high school plans and decisions, we worked with Metis Associates to survey members of the class of 2018 from 20 GEAR UP high schools, with 614 youth (52%) responding.
Six months after graduation, 70% of surveyed youth were in some form of postsecondary education. Consistent with national trends, youth who are female, white, higher achieving, and/or who have at least one parent with a college degree were more likely than their peers to enroll in postsecondary education.
When deciding what to do after high school, students were most interested in having a career or job they love, making money, and expanding their horizons.
Most of the high school graduates who did not continue on to postsecondary education felt they needed to work, they couldn’t afford it, and/or they needed a break from school. Yet, almost three-quarters of them reported they are likely to enroll in postsecondary education in the near future.
“I do see [college] in my future, just not right now, [because] I’m not [yet] set in my path.”
The top three challenges for students enrolled in postsecondary education were managing school deadlines and responsibilities, balancing academic and social life, and keeping up their grades. First-generation college students were struggling with many more issues than their peers.
Most graduates felt their high schools were helpful in preparing for life after high school, particularly those enrolled in postsecondary education.
[My teachers did] whatever they could to help me fill out my applications, my scholarships, to write my essays. They helped me really with everything.
Youth not enrolled in college would have liked more classes or information on practical life skills (e.g., budgeting, banking, and taxes), opportunities for career exploration, and positive encouragement and reinforcement. College students would have liked to have had more dual credit courses, college trips, assistance with college and financial aid applications, and information on what to expect in college.