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Study: One in Four Young Adults Say the Education System Has Little to No Understanding of Their Values and Goals

image from As part of its commitment to education, Viacom partnered with The Associated Press to conduct "Young Adults' Perspectives on American Education 2011," a groundbreaking study based on a combination of peer-to-peer interviews and a large-scale poll of more than 1,100 American 18-24 year-olds.

Viacom and The Associated Press approached the study by looking at 18-24 year-olds as "core consumers of education" and evaluating how the education system is meeting their needs.  

According to the study, young adults are optimistic that high schools and colleges can prepare them for the working world, but also feel these institutions aren't adapting quickly enough to meet students' changing needs.

As a result, more and more 18-24 year-olds are taking a less traditional approach to higher education, via self-directed curricula, internships and self-teaching.

Recognizing the important role young people can and should play in reaching their goals, Viacom launched Get Schooled, which provides the tools and guidance young adults need to succeed in today's competitive environment.

The full "Young Adults' Perspectives on American Education 2011" study is available on the Get Schooled website at or on the Get Schooled Facebook Page.

According to the study, students are increasingly creating individual, self-tailored curricula by cherry picking schools and courses. They're also taking longer to graduate because they feel that, by combining school with work and internships, they stand a greater chance of finding a desirable job.

Young adults are relying more on themselves, their families and friends and less on community or religious organizations and high school counselors when it comes to education decisions.

Detailed findings from the study include:

  • Overall, 27 percent of young adults say the education system has little to no understanding of their values and goals. More than a third (36 percent) report it is ambivalent to their values and goals.
  • Only 37 percent say the education system mostly or completely understands them.
  • Among those surveyed with a high school diploma, but no college experience, 33 percent say the education system has little to no understanding of their values and goals.  

How College Leads to a Better Life is Unclear

The most consistent theme among those interviewed – from those with no college experience to those with bachelor degrees – is that college should prepare one to join the workforce.

But today's pragmatic, goal-oriented young adults are unsure that the education product being offered to them will deliver the job or career that they want.

  • More than half of young adults say it's more worth the money to get "an education that is focused on success in the world."

Young Adults' Perspectives on American Education 2011

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