In a 2009 study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the group Public Agenda surveyed college students who did and did not graduate. Part of this study looked at the level of prior guidance and planning that students had before attending college.
They study found that the majority of students, especially those who did not graduate, had little planning and guidance for college. 2/3 of students who did not graduate based their college decisions not on academics, but on convenience (e.g., what was close, cheap, or “easy”).
Both graduates and non-graduates were asked to rate their high school guidance counselors on how well they helped them explore careers, decide upon a school, and in helping them with the application process. 2/3 of both graduates and non-graduates rated their guidance counselors “fair to poor,” with only 13% rating them “excellent” on these criteria.
Of these same students who gave their pre-college guidance low marks, 71% of graduates and 68% of non-graduates said that having good guidance about different college majors and programs is a key issue for college decision-making.
Jeffrey Ludovici, M.A., is a national-level higher education consultant based in Pittsburgh. He has worked with students, families, colleges, and other professionals for more than 10 years. He specializes in understanding why students can end up doing poorly in college, as well as what can be done to address the issues.