Reflections from the Graduating High School Class of 2017
Reflections from the Graduating High School Class of 2017Maria Alcon-Heraux, Director of Communications, College Board
Hard-working, innovative, and making the world a better place; that’s how the senior class of 2017 would like to be seen.
The College Board conducted a survey of 27,000 students, one of our largest surveys, from the graduating class of 2017, titled “College Board Survey: On the Road to College—and Beyond,” to gain insight into the students’ college application experience and career aspirations.
“We are definitely dreamers, but most of us are willing to do what it takes to make our dreams a reality,” says Haiz from Tennessee when asked how he’d like others to view his generation.
Of the students surveyed, two-thirds said they performed community service work during their final high school year, and over 40% said they had a job at that time.
Students also spent time preparing for college entrance exams and honing the knowledge needed for college and career success. Of the students who said they took the SAT®, two-thirds reported engaging in some sort of preparation. Of those who reported preparing, nearly half used free, personalized Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy®, three times the number of students who said they used a tutor.
The majority of these students want to go to college. Close to 70% of graduating seniors in the survey said they plan to attend a 4-year college, 17% plan to attend a 2-year college, and the remaining 13% plan to enlist in the military, enroll in a certificate program or trade school, or get a job.
Valentina, a graduating senior from Florida, had some advice for high school students: “I would advise current high school students to find something that they love and put their effort into doing what they love. Work hard, challenge yourself, and enjoy life in the moment.”
APPLYING TO COLLEGE
Valentina isn’t the only one who believes following your passion is key. Among her fellow graduating seniors in the survey, 70% said the ability to pursue a specific major was very important in deciding which college to choose, and over half said the same of cost of college, reputation of a specific area of study, availability of financial aid, and the college’s reputation.
College-bound students in the survey reported submitting five college applications on average. Students taking the SAT already get four free SAT score sends, and low-income students get an additional four SAT score sends and four college application waivers to make applying more affordable.
When asked what parts of their college application helped them get into college, upward of 80% said college entrance exams, which were second in importance to high school grades. At the same time, over half of students surveyed (57%) said that teachers frequently or occasionally assign students higher grades than they deserve.
Though for many applying to college can be stressful, college counselors can really help students navigate the process. When Abbie from Nevada was asked what about her counselor she was most grateful for, she said: “I am most grateful to my high school counselor for constantly telling me to never give up, flashing my accomplishments at me (my transcript, my test scores) every office visit as a reminder that I was already capable of doing great things.”
According to the survey, the class of 2017 wants to make a positive impact in the future. Close to 70% of students say that finding a career where they can make a difference is very important.
The most popular intended majors reported by graduating senior respondents are biological sciences, business, engineering, health professions, and psychology. And, almost half of graduating senior respondents plan to go to graduate or professional school after college.
The class of 2017 understands the value of going to college. In our survey, 91% of students completely or generally agree that they’re more likely to be employed in the career of their choice if they complete a bachelor’s degree, and 84% agree that the future benefits of their college degree outweigh the costs, views that are supported by evidence.
Mira from California sums up her contemporaries as: “The generation of love, acceptance, diversity, inclusion, and above all, innovation to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”
Note on methodology: In May–June of 2017, the College Board surveyed all opted-in students in the class of 2017 who participated in a College Board program or assessment during their time in high school—27,000 students completed the survey. Data were weighted to reflect the high school senior population in terms of gender, geography, AP® Exam taking, and household income. The College Board reached almost 90% of the graduating class through our programs and assessments.