Recent high school graduates agree that college is important. According to a survey of 2010 high school graduates released by the College Board today, 90 percent said that their high school diploma was not enough to compete in today's society.
The organization, which administers the SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) exams, checked in with 1,507 students who graduated from high school in 2010 to see how they were doing a year later. Most of them are faring well; three quarters said they had a "good" or "great" 2010, and only 9 percent said they were dissatisfied with their high school experience.
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But almost half of students say they wish they took different classes in high school, particularly more difficult science, math, and writing courses. Students who did challenge themselves by taking AP or International Baccalaureate courses—39 percent of those surveyed—say the extra difficulty was worth it. An overwhelming majority of those students say AP and IB courses were more worthwhile and more interesting than their standard coursework.
College Board officials say that high schools need to find a way to encourage students to take more difficult classes before it's too late.
"Students are asking for more rigor after they're out of the frying pan, and have been dropped into a larger frying pan," Trevor Packer, College Board's senior vice president for AP and college readiness, said during a conference call with media.
In hindsight, many students agree; 37 percent of 2010 graduates say that high school graduation requirements should be made tougher, and nearly 70 percent said that graduating from high school was "easy" or "very easy."
Some students say high school didn't adequately prepare them for college; 54 percent of graduates say that their freshman year college courses were more difficult than expected, and a quarter needed to take remedial coursework during their freshman year. One in seven students dropped out during their first year of college.
[Read about the ACT college readiness survey.]
Among the 26 percent of graduates surveyed who did not enroll in a post-secondary program, 83 percent say they want to complete a college degree in the future. Graduates who didn't attend college say they wanted to take time off from school, couldn't afford school, or were more interested in working than attending school.