FINDING No 3: High school counselors are viewed as less helpful than teachers.
The dismal ratings young people give their high school counselors would be disturbing under any circumstances, but the fact that young people typically give their teachers and mentors better ratings in this area is notable. It suggests that, at least as the young people themselves see it, a malfunctioning counseling system is a particularly conspicuous gap.
Based on what high school students and young adults report in this and other research conducted by Public Agenda, educators overall are playing a remarkably positive role in motivating young people to go on to college and continue learning. Solid majorities of young adults from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds report that they had a “teacher who really took an interest in them personally and encouraged them to go to college.” Most say that they had a teacher or coach who “really inspired them and motivated them to do their best.” One young man from St. Louis interviewed for this project specifically mentioned that his teachers were more helpful than his guidance counselors who don’t “really don’t care about you.” He turned instead to his advanced biology teacher because “some teachers, they care . . . . You can just tell.”
Not only have educators done a good job of encouraging young people to adopt college as a goal, but they, along with parents and others, have also convinced most students that knowledge and know-how are valuable assets in today’s world. Most young people say their parents actively encouraged them to attend college. More than 8 in 10 of those surveyed here say that even if they knew there were lots of good jobs for people without degrees, they would “still make the decision to go to school because what you learn there is so important.”