Do High School Students Think about Their Careers?

“The students I teach seem to fall into two distinct groups,” says Carla, a high school teacher in New Jersey. “Some of them seem paralyzed with worry about what they want to do with their lives, while others never seem to think about it at all.”

And let’s hear from a student named Paul, who tells us, “Do I worry about what I am going to do after college? Kind of.” At the same time, his classmate Veronica states, “I am aiming to get into the best nursing program I can, become a nurse practitioner, and add additional training as I need it through my adult life.”

Yes, students are all over the map when it comes to career planning. Yet our research shows that most of them really are thinking about their career paths – possibly a lot more than most of us realize. Here are some findings from the Career Pathways and 21st Century Skills Survey of 35,410 students administered in 2018 by the Student Research Foundation.

Students are thinking about future careers . . .

  • “Very Much” (38% of all students surveyed)
  • “Quite a Bit” (37%)
  • “Some” (22%)
  • “Very Little” (3%)
  • “None” (1%)

High school students think more about careers as they get older . . .

  • 47% of seniors think about careers “very much,” and so do . . .
  • 38% of juniors
  • 34% of sophomores
  • 32% of freshman

African-Americans think more about their careers than members of other groups do . . .

  • 52% of African-Americans think about careers “very much,” and so do . . .
  • 40% of Hispanic-Americans
  • 36% of Asian-Americans
  • 34% of whites

Female students think about careers more than male students do . . . .

  • 45% of female students think “very much” about their future careers, and so do . . .
  • 40% of male students

Similar numbers of well-to-do and disadvantaged students think about their future careers . . .

  • 39% of “higher poverty” students think “very much” about their future careers, and so do . . .
  • 37% of “lower poverty” students

High-performing students think more about their careers than low-performing students do . . .

  • 41% of “A” students think “very much” about their future careers, and so do . . .
  • 37% of “B” students
  • 32% of “C” students

The findings in today’s article are from the Career Pathways and 21st Century Skills Survey of 35,410 students administered in 2018 by the Student Research Foundation.

To Learn More about College & Career Planning For High School Students

Teachers, we invite all your students to explore their career options by participating in our career and college research studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities matched to their interests.

 

High School Students thinking about their future careers

 

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