Watch CBS News

How do today's high schoolers measure future success?

Call it Great Expectations versus Hard-Earned Experience.

A new survey of both U.S. high school students and full-time workers finds many in the upcoming generation think they'll need to earn more than current employees in order to consider themselves successful.

The national online survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder polled more than 200 high school seniors, as well as over 3,000 full-time workers at a variety of industries and companies across the United States.

When asked what salary they need to earn to be successful, 25 percent of current workers say they'd be okay earning less than $50,000 per year. But that view of success with a salary at under 50k per year was shared by only 18 percent of the high schoolers surveyed.

Another 18 percent of high school students said an annual salary of between $50,000 and $70,000 would put them in the successful range, compared to nearly 30 percent of folks already in the work force.

And more than one-fifth of the high schoolers polled said successful means a salary of between $100,000-$150,000 per year, whereas just 15 percent of current employees were reaching for that salary goal as a measure of their own success.

"While workplace expectations can vary widely among different generations, one thing they have in common is the want to be successful in their positions," Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder's chief human resources officer, said in a statement. "Introducing programs that promote learning and collaboration -- such as mentoring -- can help workers of all generations achieve that together."

Fortunately, the younger generation's view of success apparently doesn't just hinge on their take-home pay. Eighty-one percent of the high school students polled (compared to three-quarters of people currently working) defined success as a their ability to provide a comfortable life for themselves and their families.

Nearly 80 percent of the students linked being successful with a sense of accomplishment, versus 67 percent of current workers. And 78 percent of high schoolers believe being successful also means making a positive impact on people's lives, compared to less than half of those currently employed.

CareerBuilder's Haefner, meanwhile, says companies need to begin adjusting their recruitment and retention strategies now to prepare for this next generation of young people preparing to enter the workforce.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.