High school students report parents are biggest influence on career, education plans

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A report from the National Center for Education Statistics showed that parents — not school counselors or friends — have the most influence on high school students’ post-graduation plans.

The report was published on the NCES website on Jan. 23, and was taken from a study of more than 23,000 students who started high school in 2009.

The set of questions about who influenced the students’ post-graduation decisions were included in a 2012 survey follow-up.

Half of the students responded that their family members most influenced their thinking on higher education; the next largest group at 34 percent was themselves, meaning that more than a third of students felt they were their own biggest influence.

The numbers were slightly different when it came to students’ thinking about their career decisions. 41 percent said family members had the biggest influence, and 42 percent of students said they were their own biggest influence.

Teachers, friends and coaches were all distantly behind, with only 18 percent of students saying someone in one of those roles was a major influence on their post-graduation decisions.

The numbers were similar when it came to where students turn for information about higher education and careers.

Forty-nine percent said their families were their biggest source of information on higher education, and 41 percent said they were their biggest source of career-related information.

The study the report was taken from also looked at the students’ socioeconomic status, and found that their responses varied to some degree by that status.

Across high, medium and low SES groups about half of students still reported that their families were their greatest influences on education decisions.

The degree to which students considered themselves their own greatest influence varied, though; only 29 percent of low-income students identified themselves as such, compared to 35 and 36 percent of middle- and upper-income students, respectively.

There was an even greater disparity among how students much the students considered themselves their own greatest influence on career-related decisions; 36 percent of low-income students identified themselves as such, compared to 42 and 49 percent of middle- and upper-income students respectively.

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