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High Schoolers Say College Education Necessary to Get Jobs

A new study shows students think college is more important than ever.

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A growing number of middle and high school students plan on attending a four-year college.

A new report from insurer MetLife found that 75 percent of middle and high school students plan on going to college, compared with just 57 percent in 1988 and 67 percent in 1997.

[Learn how to pick the best college for you.]

Both students and parents feel receiving a college education is more important than ever, with 84 percent of students believing there will be "few or no" career opportunities for students who don't complete some form of higher education.

That could be a challenge for some, however, as teachers surveyed said only about 63 percent of their students would be prepared for college without taking remedial coursework. Teachers estimated about half of their students would graduate from college.

The numbers are actually optimistic, because only 57 percent of college students graduate within six years, according to a 2010 report by the National Center for Education Statistics, a government organization. About 69 percent of students enroll in a two- or four-year college the fall following high school graduation.

[Take the right classes in high school.]

Some of the biggest hurdles facing students include finding the money to pay for college and getting a late start on college searches. Some 60 percent of students worry about paying for college, while just over half of 11th and 12th graders had been on a visit to a college campus. A third of high schoolers say their school does a "fair or poor" job of providing information on college requirements, including what it takes to get into, pay for, and succeed in college, while half of parents said their child's school did a fair or poor job of providing college financial aid information.

[Learn why applying for financial aid will be easier in 2011.]

"The report is a call to action," Michael Cohen, president of education reform group Achieve, said in a statement. "It is a reminder that our public schools can't prepare young people for postsecondary success unless our colleges and employers forge closer, ongoing ties with educators, students, and their families."

The "2010 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for Colleges and Careers" asked 1,000 public school teachers, 2,002 public school students, 580 parents, and 301 business executives from Fortune 1,000 companies about students' preparedness for college and the jobs schools are doing to prepare students for college and the workforce. The report has been compiled annually since 1984, but the topic changes each year.

See U.S. News's coverage of the country's Best High Schools.