YTN’s research echoes that of UCLA and Ohio State; youth are less prepared for life on their own or college than at any previous point in time. Even those with high academic achievement often struggle once on a college campus. In our interviews with thousands of high school seniors and college freshmen YTN uncovered a number of important factors that lead to the 28% dropout rate of freshmen and the harsh reality that only 30% of those who start a college degree complete it.
The more disturbing reality from YTN’s research was the fact that over half of the students encountered significant hurt in the transition that parents never heard about. Many more struggled academically, socially or financially.
In our first set of interviews we found:
- A young women who was sexually assaulted and contracted an STD in her first week on campus
- A young man who awoke in the hospital having almost died from alcohol poisoning
- A young women, a college junior, who was trapped in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend stemming back to her first week on campus
- A young man who got himself in financial trouble and took two jobs which led to academic probation
- A valedictorian who thought college would be easy and could not believe how much she was struggling academically
- Over 80% of high school seniors believed that leaving home and the transition to college would be easy. Over 70% of college freshman said the transition was much more difficult than they anticipated. This lack of clearly perceiving the challenges set college freshmen up to encounter difficult transition issues.
- Students who lacked an understanding of the challenges, associated stress, changes and loneliness they would face were prone to experiencing culture shock. They then bond to the first things that accept them, which lead to the hurts and problems evidenced in the video.
- Culture shock is a physiological response to stress and change that opens one to bond with a foreign culture very quickly. It also leads people to cast off the culture and beliefs of the culture of their origin. This means that the first 24 to 72 hours on campus, before classes even begin, are critical to the long-term success and health of our kids. Helping kids see and understand the changes, challenges, and stress before they leave home is vital to help minimize the impact of culture shock.
- Over 60% of the youth we talked with who were heading to college or the military were, in effect, screaming for freedom from their parents. YTN found that that they could not wait to leave home and be free from their parents’ pressure and restrictions. As a result, most were focused on the wrong things with their anticipated freedom. They were like an arrow on a bow pulled back and ready to fly with one major problem; they were pointed in the wrong direction. High school seniors in this mindset were far more likely to encounter problems in their transition to college, the military or a career.
- The friends made and the activities adopted in the first days on campus or away from home often set the course for their academic achievement and financial status for their first semester to year on campus.
- Students who did not have their own goals in place before college related to their future, lifestyle, career, academic achievement and financial management were far more likely to encounter issues in their transition.
UCLA, Ohio State, and YTN’s research consistently find that youth are less prepared for life on their own today and that a majority lead dual lives and are eager for freedom from their parents. Given this we should reexamine the approach to parenting we take through the adolescent years. These findings, combined with all of YTN’s other research, led to the development and testing of a different approach that is now called the Secrets of Influential Parenting and a college preparation program called Succeed that helps student evaluate the reality of the change and the potential cost of pursuing freedom. Schools and parents can host Succeed for their juniors and seniors.