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How Parents Navigate And Influence Their Kids’ Post-High School Education

Understand how parents perceive higher education for their kids in the midst of changing needs and costs.

Updated 12/11/2018
Class of graduating seniors throwing their graduation caps.

Is the dream of a four-year college education for every child still the ideal for parents, or are parents shifting their thinking due to the ever-growing cost of college and changing needs of the job market? What is the current parental perception of higher education and the higher education planning process? Can changing parents’ perception about what a college education truly is—and should be—shift the paradigm so that more students are exposed to a wider variety of higher education opportunities that could lead to student success?

Through a series of focus groups, small discussions and survey research with parents nationwide, American Student Assistance explored how parents view higher education, their openness to pathways beyond higher education, and the impact of current realities. 

Key findings include:

  • 72% of parents define “college” as only a four-year or bachelor’s degree program
  • 82% of parents said they were comfortable with the idea of their children pursuing a vocational or technical program, but only 7 percent of parents even classified this type of education as “college”
  • 83% percent of parents think that community college is a cheaper and higher-quality education alternative
  • Only 32% of parents agreed strongly with the sentiment, “I have the knowledge I need to guide my child through the application and decision process for post-high school education.” 

Dive deeper into the research to get the full findings.

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