According to two new polls (one for parents and another for teenagers):
• U.S. teenagers are much more likely to think their parents are concerned about how they're doing in school than parents seem to be.
- Teens said they felt the No. 1 concern of parents was their performance in school.
- Parents themselves ranked performance in school as only the fifth-largest concern about their teens, while concerns about unsafe driving ranked number one.
• When asked if teens were more likely to say they have more opportunities to get ahead than their parents did at the same age:
- 62% of teens agreed.
- 41% of parents agreed.
• Regarding whether it is better to be a teenager in America today than decades ago:
- 54% of teenagers said now is the preferable time to be a teen.
- Only 18% of parents agreed.
• Both parents (68%) and teens (81%) say they play the greatest role in ensuring teens' success in school.
• When asked about parents' involvement in teens' lives:
- 66% of parents worried they didn't have sufficient time to focus on their kids.
- 68% of teens reported that their parents are too closely involved in every aspect of their lives.
• Both parents and teens agreed that college provides a ticket to the middle class and that this benefit outweighs the economic burdens that accompany student loan debt with:
- 71% of parents saying they expect their kids to go to a four-year college.
- 69% of teens saying they expect to attend a four-year college...
although statistics show fewer than 40% of high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges.
When asked about paying for four-year degrees:
- 66% of parents say they are counting on grants and scholarships to help finance the cost of college education.
- 78% of teens say the same thing...
although only 40% of college students today receive Pell Grant money and far smaller numbers benefit from merit-based scholarships.
This poll, which explored how Americans assess the state of childhood and parenthood, surveyed 1,000 adults by landline and cell phones Sept. 3-7. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. In addition, National Journal conducted a separate online survey of 300 teenagers ages 13 to 18 (only including 18-year-olds who are still in high school); teen participants received a small compensation for responding. The survey is reflective of the demographics of American teens, but it does not carry the same statistical validity as the random phone survey of adults.