Fifty-nine percent of U.S. teens say they plan to attend a four-year college after high school, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. Twelve percent plan to attend a two-year college and 4% plan to enroll in a technical or vocational school, adding up to 75% of teens planning on some form of post-high school education.
The survey also reveals 5% of teens plan to work full-time, and 3% plan to join the military. Thirteen percent of teens are unsure of their plans after high school graduation.
According to the survey, teenage girls (68%) are more likely than teenage boys (51%) to say they plan to attend a four-year college after high school, which suggests the gender gap in four-year college enrollment will continue to grow.
Teens with at least one parent with a bachelor’s degree or higher are also more likely to say they plan to attend a four-year college after high school. More specifically, 73% of these teens say they plan to attend a four-year college after graduation, compared with 53% of teens whose parents completed some college, and 48% of teens whose parents have a high school education or less.
Similarly, teens with a household income of $75,000 or higher are more likely to attend a four-year college (72%) than teens with a household income of between $30,0000 and $75,000 (52%), and teens with a household income of less than $30,000 (42%), according to the survey.
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Not surprisingly, 65% of teens who plan to attend a four-year college worry about affordability, particularly those in lower-income households. For instance, 76% of teens with household incomes below $75,000 say they worry whether they will be able to afford college, compared with 55% of teens with household incomes of $75,000 or more.
Seventy percent of teens also report worrying about getting into their college of choice.
Though 71% of teens say they plan to attend any type of college after high school graduation, 95% say that having a job or career they enjoy would be extremely or very important to them as adults. And 51% of teens say that having a lot of money would be extremely or very important to them, according to the survey.
According to data from Georgetown University‘s Center on Education and the Workforce, bachelor’s degree graduates generally earn more than associate degree holders and employees with a high school diploma.
Earning a bachelor’s degree is also correlated with other outcomes teens say they want, including helping others who are in need (81%). According to Philip Trostel, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Orono, college grads donate and volunteer more. “College attendance increases generosity significantly,” says Trostel. On average, college graduates donate more than three times more money per year to charities than do those who do not earn college degrees (Horowitz/Graf, Pew Research Center, 2/20; Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, 2/21).