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Schools May Overlook Non-College Bound Students, Study Shows

By Vanessa Denice
Posted December 15, 2013 01:00 PM

Many parents are concerned high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the workforce.
Many parents are concerned high schools are not doing enough to prepare students for the workforce.

From a young age, children are told that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be. While some may harbor dreams of being an astronaut or a politician, others may be drawn to different fields - some of which don't necessarily require a four-year degree.

Whether these young people turn to certificate programs or associate's degrees to further vocational careers depends on the future they're searching for, but they may not be getting the attention they deserve from high schools. A recent report titled "Education and Health in Schools: A Survey of Parents," noted that students with more nontraditional aspirations may be falling by the wayside in school. 

Students Not Prepared for Future Careers

The study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that many parents are concerned that high schools overlook students who are not bound for a traditional bachelor's degree program. About four in 10 parents say schools are not sufficiently preparing students who will not attend college. 

Additionally, 24% of parents believe their child's schools puts too little emphasis on technology and computers. That is particularly startling considering the rapid job growth occurring in these fields, both for those with a four-year degree and other levels of education. 

Parents of Girls Feel the Heat

Although many parents may be worried about the future of their children, those who are raising girls tend to be even more concerned. Approximately 49% of parents of girls felt that high schools were not doing enough to prepare their children for the workforce, compared to just 37% of boys' parents. 

"We've seen over time more and more jobs do require some sort of higher education," Christianne Corbett, a senior researcher with the American Association of University Women, told NPR. "A high school degree really is not enough for individuals to support themselves and their families, and women are paid less than men at every level of education. So when you take that into consideration, women with a high school degree don't fare even as well as men with just a high school degree." 

The Importance of Higher Education 

Higher education may be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to sustaining a job, but not every student has the motivation or means to enroll in classes full-time. Online programs and certification courses have blossomed as a result, as they allow students to save time and money while still getting the knowledge they need to succeed. In fact, one study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than 1 million certificates were awarded in 2010 alone, and that figures looks to continue increasing.

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