A non-profit calls for more mentoring.

Frederick, Md (KM). Teenagers who graduate from high school and head off to college or employment may not be prepared for life challenges. That’s according to a public opinion poll of 1500 adults 18 and older living in all 50 states. It was conducted for Communities in Schools. “Unfortunately, we found that only one in four of US adults believe that students are prepared for college and career when they exit high school,” says CEO Dale Erquiga.

The survey conducted by US Gallop Poll found that 3% of US adults believe that high school students are very prepared for success in college, and 22% believe graduates are prepared. 56% believe high school graduates are somewhat prepared and 17% believe they are not prepared at all.

In addition, only 5% of adults believe that high school students are very prepared for success in the workplace, and 17% believe graduates are prepared. More than half, 58%, believe high school graduates are somewhat prepared and 19% believe they are not prepared.

For those heading off to college, the survey found that a majority of respondents believe that what would be most helpful to those students would be instruction in financial planning and management, along with life skills like conflict resolution, interpersonal communications and persistence.

And for students heading off to jobs after graduation, respondents say the programs that would most helpful are employment skills training in areas like resume writing and interviewing, and social and life skills such as teamwork, communications and decision making.

“This is a challenging world we live in. Kids face all kinds of social media and challenges in their neighborhoods that, frankly, we didn’t face as young people,” says Erquiga. “That’s particularly pronounced in an urban area, and it’s very much pronounced for children who live at some level of poverty.”

He says what’s needed are adults to help guide these children through their formative years. “All kids are going to need basic provisions, whether that’s food or transportation,” says Erquiga. “Kids need mentors. Kids need a caring adult in their lives to help them build the social and relational skills that they’re going to need,.”

According to its website, Communities in Schools works directly with 2300 students in 25 states and the District of Columbia to build relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life. The school-based staff work with teachers to identify challenges student face in class, or at home, and coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources into the schools. That includes immediate needs such as food and clothing to the more complex ones like emotional support.

By Kevin McManus

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