Survey: Women students less prepared to make career, college choices
Men high school graduates were more likely to say they were prepared to make a career choice or to declare a college major after high school compared to woman graduates, according to a post-graduation readiness survey by YouScience, a business that offers students career advice.
The survey also found disproportionate men and women students' high school exposure to different careers. About one-third, or 32%, of women students and 22% of men said they were rarely or never exposed to careers in high school. While 70% of men students knew CTE courses were available, only 50% of women students did.
Workplace connections for teens can help students better understand the value of their education and can prepare them to make important life decisions, the YouScience report said.
These survey findings follow the company's report in December that showed three-fourths of high school graduates said they were moderately, slightly or not at all prepared to make college or career decisions after graduation.
The most recent survey included responses from more than 500 high school graduates from the 2019-22 classes.
"By improving career exposure for everyone and partnering more closely with industry, we have a greater chance of solving workforce issues such as the limited pool of skilled talent," said YouScience Chief Operating Officer Jeri Larsen, in a statement. "Equitable education and exposure for all students is needed now more than ever."
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona highlighted in a speech last week the need to broaden high schoolers’ career and workplace experiences.
"We have the students for the careers needed to build America," Cardona told an audience in Washington, D.C. "We just have to better align our systems and clear the path for our students."
In November, the U.S. Education, Labor and Commerce departments announced they were dedicating $5.6 million in Perkins funding to expand work-based learning opportunities for students as part of a joint initiative. The Education Department also issued guidance to local and state school systems on how to use federal COVID-19 emergency funds to expand post-secondary college and career pathways.
Some activities promoted by the Education Department include increasing access to college dual enrollment programs, strengthening college and career advice to students, and broadening students' experiences with high-quality, work-based learning.
The guidance included examples of districts' investments in these areas:
- Frederick County Public Schools. This Maryland district used Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money to buy textbooks and course materials for students enrolled in Pathways, a dual enrollment course for English learners provided in partnership with Frederick Community College.
- Houston Independent School District. In this Texas district, $53.2 million in ESSER money was dedicated to helping students navigate the college admissions process. The district plans to add advisors for college and career readiness and grow partnerships with organizations that assist with students' plan and apply to college and prepare for careers.
- Denver Public Schools. Students in this Colorado district who aspire to be teachers can participate in a summer work-based program while being supervised by master teachers. The students work with a master teacher to provide academic and enrichment activities to middle school students and then receive feedback during a debriefing after each class.
- Council Bluffs Community School District. This Iowa district is spending $990,000 in ESSER funds on its Plus One Pathways program that allows students options for earning a diploma and two trade credentials over the course of 9-12 grades.
"We must challenge our myopic view that emphasizing the importance of career pathways is about limiting students, or the view that it’s four-year-college or bust," Cardona said in his D.C. speech.