Think High School Sucked? You're Not Alone

U.S.  President Barack Obama (2nd L) and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (R) participate in a roundtable about higher education with high school students and their parents at Washington-Lee High School May 4, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia.

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

While many people look back on their high school days with fondness, most of us agree that the training we got there could have been better. A healthy majority of Americans think that changes to their high school experience such as more interaction with guidance counselors and help developing study skills would have improved their education, according to the latest College Board/National Journal Next America Poll

Support was highest for the kinds of changes that would have impacted respondents' post-high school employment and educational opportunities. Asked about the opportunity to have more technical and job skills training, a full 72 percent said that would have made their high school education better. Only 2 percent thought those services would have changed their experience for the worse.

In the same vein, 63 percent wanted more interaction with guidance counselors "about options available after high school," and 66 percent thought "better instruction to develop study skills" would have improved their high school experience. Young Americans are particularly aware of how important good career and college counseling can be: 75 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 reported wanting more interaction with counselors, as did 78 percent of current students.

The idea of getting more help developing good study habits also attracted strong support, with college graduates and respondents with some college education most willing to say they would have benefited (70 and 69 percent, respectively, compared to 61 percent of those with a high-school education or less).

While more opportunities for technical and job skills training earned the highest backing from respondents--72 percent overall thought it would have improved their high school education--there were no significant differences in support by party, race, or income.

There was one high school innovation that not many Americans could support--extending the school day. Even if you had the time of your life in high school, it appears, that didn't mean you wanted to spend more of your life there. Interestingly, the only exception was among Americans who didn't end up going on to college. While only 18 percent of all respondents thought a longer school day would have been a good idea, 28 percent of blacks with less than a college education and 31 percent of Hispanics with the same said an extend high-school day would have made their education better.

The College Board/National Journal Next America Poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, surveyed 1,271 adults, including oversamples of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans, March 18-26. The interviews were conducted by landline and cell phone in English and Spanish. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the entire sample, and larger margins for racial subgroups.

Republished with permission from National Journal, whose Next America project explores the political, economic and social impacts of profound racial and cultural change facing our nation.

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