According to the latest national census, there are about 23 million 20- to 24-year-olds in the USA. If you do the math, and assume that 1-in-5 are going to struggle with learning and attention issues, we’re talking about 4.6 million of young adults in the USA have these struggles. Some of these kids received services and supports during their K-12 school years, but many did not. Some are enrolled in post-secondary education programs, but some are not. But all are on a journey, hopefully a path to independence that will allow them to follow their dreams and pursue their passions, build fulfilling lives and become happy and contributing members of society.
NCLD wanted firsthand information about what factors contributed the most to the ability of these young adult to successfully navigate from high school to young adulthood. So we conducted a national online survey and asked more than 1,200 young adults to tell us about their lives before leaving high school and now that they’ve transitioned to college or work. We asked about their grades, about the types of help they received, and whether they were active participants in discussions around special services and transition. We asked about whether they had mentors and we asked about hobbies and out-of-school activities. We posed questions about their family structure, asked whether they held a job while in school and probed about their overall level of satisfaction with their lives. And much more.
Once we had all of our responses, we were able to organize the findings in a way that allowed us to look at all of these young adults along a continuum. One cluster of kids fell into a group that we called “navigators” (the kids who fell on the most positive end of the continuum) who presented with the most successful outcomes after their transition from high school. The kids we called “copers” were in the middle of the continuum, and these were the ones who presented with a mixed-bag of outcomes. And the group we called “strugglers” were the ones who were the most disengaged and anchorless, having the hardest time finding their way after high school.
Looking at how these young adults fell along this continuum can be enormously helpful to parents and educators as they help plan instruction and support.
The more interesting question, however, is this: What are the “drivers” (experiences, conditions, factors) that predict a young adult will end up on the “navigator” end of the continuum?