Even though they have yet to begin searching for work, most high school students aren't confident they'll find a job they're excited about when they do start, new research finds.
Just 48 percent of high school seniors think they'll be able to find a "good job" after they graduate, according to a Gallup study.
Students don't start out so cynical about their future job prospects, however. The research discovered that the percentage of students who think they'll be able to find a good job when they start their careers declines over time.
Specifically, nearly 70 percent of fifth-graders are optimistic about their job prospects after high school. That percentage drops each year until grade 10, when it reaches 49 percent.
"All people want a good job," the study's authors wrote. "Most students believe a good job is in their future, but Gallup Student Poll respondents' optimism wanes for students who are entering high school, and drops further for those in 10th grade."
The study revealed that the decline in future job prospects is steeper for girls than boys. Between the fifth and 12th grade, the number of boys who think they'll find a good job drops 17 percentage points. The number of girls who feel the same drops 24 percentage points over the same time. [The 10 Best Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree ]
"There could be many reasons that confidence in job prospects dips at this point in a student's education — but regardless, the trend is clear," the study's authors wrote. "Given that 'college and career' readiness are hallmark goals of the U.S. education system, leaders of all kinds — from education to government to business — need to consider building a stronger connection between education and employment to try to keep students' job optimism high as they advance in school."
Researchers believe one way to help this situation is to provide more internship opportunities. Currently, less than 10 percent of students in grades 5 through 12 are currently interning with a local employer, and less than one-third of college graduates report having a job or internship during college in which they were able to apply what they were learning.
Past research has found that students who did have successful internships in high school and college were more likely to be employed full time after graduating and more than twice as likely to be engaged in their work.
"American educational institutions and employers have room to improve by providing more real-world work experiences for students," the study's authors said.
The study was based on interviews with more than 800,000 public school students in grades 5 to 12 in 48 states.