Work Trends Surveys on Secondary and Postsecondary Education

June 9, 2015

Conducted surveys of high school and college graduates' experiences in the workforce.

The Heldrich Center conducted several Work Trends surveys of recent high school and college graduates to gain insights into how they fared in the workforce, specifically those who graduated before, during, and in the wake of the Great Recession. In Chasing the American Dream, one in two college graduates were employed full time and 26% were working part time. One in five attended graduate or professional school and 12% were unemployed or underemployed. Unfulfilled Expectations showed that while satisfied with their decision to complete a four-year degree, a large percentage of survey respondents reported that they were struggling to find full-time, permanent jobs with benefits that would lead to fulfilling careers. Left Out explored high school graduates’ experience with job searches, job satisfaction, how well they felt prepared to enter the labor market or attend college, and their perspective on their own financial futures. Only 3 in 10 high school graduates were employed full time and the majority viewed their first job as just something to get them started rather than the first step on a career pathway. In Making the Grade, Americans expressed their views on how well schools, colleges, and universities were performing, what changes would improve education, and who is responsible for ensuring students learn the skills they need to work. There was deep concern at the time of the survey about the preparation of young Americans for the workforce, despite two decades of education reform initiatives.


Chasing the American Dream: Recent College Graduates and the Great Recession (May 2012)

Making the Grade: What American Workers Think Should Be Done to Improve Education (June 2000)

Left Out. Forgotten? Recent High School Graduates and the Great Recession (June 2012)

Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy (May 2011)

Work Category
Funded By
Private contributions to the Heldrich Center