Study: Unrealistic College Expectations –

Though high school students understand the importance of college, many enter college underprepared and consequently, do not finish.

Data compiled from a recent report by Louisville, Ky.-based IQS Research reveals that the majority of high school students have unrealistic expectations about college, leading to unfavorable outcomes.

The report, titled Preparing Students to Transition from High School to College, finds that 96% of high school students believe college is important and 98% have intentions of enrolling.

Though college enrollment has seen significant increases in recent years, actual college completion is still an area for concern. The report finds that 68% of students enroll into college immediately after high school, but of those who do enroll, 42% will not complete their degree within six years.

There lies a great disparity between students’ perceptions of college and the actual realities of college, as evidenced by report analysis. Only 11% of high school students think college will be difficult while 49% think college will not be difficult. Additionally, about 70% of students think balancing college and their personal lives will not be difficult.

Among first-year college students, those who academically performed lower than their peers did not study as much, were not involved in peer groups related to course work, and were less comfortable using available resources such as professors and counselors/advisors. Research shows that just over 40% of students indicated they receive information about college from their high school counselor, because students perceive them as “unapproachable” and “unknowledgeable.”

Though students know that paying for college will be an issue, many do not fully understand how to responsibly fund their schooling. One-quarter of college students use a credit card to pay for tuition and 41% of those students will have a debt balance a year after the transaction is made.

Students knowing college is important is not enough, the report suggests. Easing the transition from high school to college will require educators, counselors, and parents to help students form more educated and realistic opinions about college and what it entails. Some programs and resources have been successful in this regard, but U.S. college completion rates are still an issue.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN