When we first embarked on the Path Least Taken series, which we conclude with the just released third installment, we did so because we noticed a lot of attention and resources had been poured into making sure students graduated ready to enter college, but not necessarily the workforce.
And since not every high school grad will pursue post-secondary education but every graduate will likely work, we thought it was critical that policymakers, school leaders and educators gain a better understanding of how non-college goers fared in the years after graduation.
Research identifying the linkage between high school preparation and college success already exists but less is known about what that preparation looks like when high school graduates decide to enter the workforce instead.
By drilling down into a decade-long federal study of the Class of 2004, we had a perfect opportunity to trace the steps of non-college goers who had found success in life and the labor market all the way back to high school.
It was a pain-staking and time-intensive endeavor, but the Path Least Taken series yielded some surprising and note-worthy findings. While you won’t have to retrace our journey, we hope you take the first step and read what we’ve discovered. It’s worth the trip.