How Waldorf Graduates Fare After High School
By Cassie Standke
Are you curious about the outcome of a Green Meadow Waldorf School education, and about Waldorf high school graduates in general? Into the World: How Waldorf Graduates Fare after High School is an excellent resource, published by Waldorf Publications in 2020, using data from a study by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education that surveyed 1,066 graduates of Waldorf high schools, including Green Meadow alumni.
The book (written by Ilan Safit, PhD and Douglas Gerwin, PhD, with Connie Stokes, MS and Andrew Starzynski, MS) offers a wealth of information describing the profile of a Waldorf graduate, details their satisfactions and critiques of their education, and features stories from Waldorf grads in their own words. It looks at data from a 2007 survey alongside the 2017 survey that the book is based upon to see trends over time, compares Waldorf grads to National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) grads and the general US population in 2018, shares information from 22 in-person interviews with Waldorf graduates, and includes the voices of Waldorf teachers from across the country.
One anonymous alum sums it up: “My opinion of all Waldorf schools is that they should be thought of as leadership training academies, whose purpose is to create a generation of leaders in every sector uniquely educated to see systems, think from a whole-systems perspective, and bring personal ethics and strong morality back into their industry of choice.” (page 196)
What comes through in the profile of a Waldorf graduate in the 2017 study is the following (pages 20-21):
- 98% attend college after graduating from a Waldorf high school
- 95% feel prepared for college/university
- 92% complete initial college degree
- 90% get into top three choices for college/university
- 87% recommend Waldorf education
- 45% major in science/math as an undergraduate (including social science)
- 41% have a career helping others (education 23%, medicine 13%, or social work 5%), compared with 32% of graduates of NAIS institutions and 23% of the general US population
- 34% major in arts/humanites as an undergraduate
Waldorf grads state that they value as most important (page 21):
- Problem solving
- Ethical standards
The book also lists fields of employment for Waldorf grads compared to NAIS alumni (page 59). The data shows Waldorf graduates entering the following fields in higher numbers than graduates of NAIS schools:
computer science/technology, education (at the elementary, secondary, adult, and college/university levels), fine/performing arts, media/journalism/publishing, medicine, and social services.
David Sloan, a former teacher at Green Meadow who went on to found two Waldorf high schools, shares a portion of a letter written to him by a Green Meadow graduate, who says:
“After completing 12+ years at Green Meadow, I went to Bard College in upstate New York. In my classes there, I found myself asking all of the questions that no one else thought to ask. I loved trying to bring a different perspective to the table and seeing how convincing the complete opposite view on a subject could be. I thought for myself and I like to think that I still do. I thank my Waldorf education for that.
After graduating from college, I helped build an online start-up business into a multi-million-dollar operation, I worked at a top marketing agency in Hamburg, Germany, and in recent years have combined my passion for photography with brand consulting and marketing. I started working freelance so that I can create my own hours and work from anywhere in the world.
I’ve lived in Germany, New York, Northern California, and […] my priorities are family and finding purpose and meaning in my day-to-day life. I’m always trying to find the balance between taking risks and providing safety and comfort for myself and my family—life is too short to stop growing and learning.” (page 163)
The authors conclude:
“Our survey responses show a decisive majority of alumni say Waldorf education has ‘prepared them for life,’ that it has instilled in them the habits of collaboration, of creative and critical thinking, and of concern for the community as a whole. In this sense, Waldorf education is successful in meeting its goals if we understand these goals to be ‘educating the whole child,’ nurturing and guiding children and adolescents in ways that contribute to their maturing into well-balanced, morally sensitive individuals who are able to pursue their own initiatives and self-realize while serving the wider community. We see this success in the professional choices of Waldorf graduates, nearly 40% of whom work in education, health services, or social services; we see it in their self-professed high level of life-satisfaction; and we see this in their own perception the skills, capacities, and formative experiences gained during their years at the Waldorf school.” (page 188)
Post-script: We also encourage you to watch this panel of Green Meadow alumni, recorded in March 2021.