Lack of College and Career Readiness Offers Investment Opportunities for Education Companies


Rising to the Challenge: Views on High School Graduates’ Preparedness for College and Careers, a just-released survey from, a national leader in promoting college and career readiness, confirms that low expectations for high school students has a profound impact on their readiness for college or career.

“These results show us that low expectations in high school have real consequences — not only for graduates themselves, but for our economy,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey.

“College faculty are telling us that it’s more and more common for students to perform poorly or fail courses due to inadequate preparation. Employers increasingly need to require recent graduates to get additional education and training in order to make up for gaps. These are serious consequences that can only be addressed with better preparation and higher expectations in high school.”

Three groups were surveyed: college instructors, employers, and recent high school graduates. It should be noted that this survey reports significant increases in skill gaps from Achieve’s previous survey in 2004.

Here are some of the startling findings:

  • 78% of instructors do not believe that public high schools are adequately preparing students for college work.
  • 62% of employers do not believe that public high schools are adequately preparing students for the expectations of the work world.
  • 96% of two-year college instructors and 88% of four-year college instructors report that students arrive with gaps in their preparation for college work.
  • 82% of employers report that students arrive at their companies with gaps in their preparation for typical jobs and advancement.
  • 47% of recent high school graduates who are in college report gaps in their preparation for college.

College instructors report skill deficits in the following areas:

  • 82% critical thinking
  • 80% comprehension of complicated material
  • 78% work and study habits
  • 77% writing
  • 76% written communication
  • 76% problem solving
  • 70% of two-year college instructors and 54% of four-year college instructors report increased first-year failures as a result of inadequate preparation for college work.
  • 61% of employers report a significant increase in the need to require additional skills training for high school graduates to make up gaps.
  • 42% of two-year college instructors say that incoming students struggle most with motivation and persistence.
  • 43% of four-year college instructors say that incoming students struggle most with inadequate preparation.
  • 87% of recent high school graduates say they would have worked harder if there had been higher expectations at their schools.

Some of the survey’s proposed solutions are areas of potential investment for education companies offering products and services for students in grades 9-12, as well as their teachers and parents.

  • Set rigorous expectations, students will rise to the challenge.
  • Have graduation requirements that ensure academic preparation for all.
  • Encourage all students to take the most advanced classes.
  • Communicate with students early in high school about the expectations and skills needed for future success—including college admissions and career interests.
  • Regularly tell students whether they are “on track.”
  • Provide real-world learning opportunities.
  • Provide support/help for students who need it (e.g. tutoring).

Although some of these are district and state policy issues, there are potential product solutions to help students address the skill gaps in their high school curriculum. Curriculum apps, tutoring services, real-world learning opportunities and internships, personal coaching, service learning, enrichment programs, personal assessment, career guidance and more.

There are individual consequences for students who are not adequately prepared for college and career. There are also larger economic consequences for our country.

Isn’t it time to demand more of our students and our schools?