Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. EA 1.6 College attendance and attainment

04/01/1997

College attendance and receipt of a bachelors degree increase employment opportunities and income potential. One of the National Education Goals for the year 2000, adopted by Congress, is for adult literacy and lifelong learning, with an objective of increasing the proportion of qualified students, especially minorities, who enter college, who complete at least two years, and who complete their degree programs.13

Table EA 1.6 presents the percentage of 25- to 29-year-old high school graduates who had completed at least some college, and the percentage who had received a bachelors degree:14
 

  • In 1995, 62 percent of high school graduates in this age group had completed some college, and 28 percent had received at least a Bachelors degree.
  • College attendance rates for this group have increased dramatically since the early 1970s. The percentage of high school graduates completing at least some college rose from 44 percent in 1971 to 62 percent in 1995 (see Figure EA 1.6.A)
  • College completion, defined here as receipt of a bachelors degree, increased more modestly, from 22 percent of 25- to 29-year-old high school graduates in 1971 to 28 percent of this group in 1995 (see Figure EA 1.6.B)

Differences by Race and Ethnicity.15 College attendance or graduation differs by racial and ethnic group. For example, in 1995, whites were far more likely (31 percent) than blacks (18 percent) or Hispanics (16 percent) to have received a Bachelors degree or higher. Whites were also more likely to have attended college (65 percent) than blacks (52 percent) or Hispanics (50 percent). Whites have had far higher rates of attendance and completion than blacks or Hispanics since the early 1970s, and the gap between whites and the other two racial/ethnic groups in college attendance and completion has not decreased over time (see Figures EA 1.6.A and EA 1.6.B).
 
 

Figure EA 1.6.A 
Percentage of 25- to 29-Year-Old High School Graduatesa Who Have Attended Some College,b by Race/Ethnicity: 1971-1995 
 

EA1_6A.GIF

Note: a12 years of school completed for 1971-1991, and high school diploma or equivalency certificate for 1992-1995. Beginning in 1992, the Current Population Survey (CPS) changed the questions used to obtain the educational attainment of respondents.
bThis was measured as 1 or more years of college, 1971 - 1991, and as some college or more, 1993-1995.

Source: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. The Condition of Education 1996, NCES 96-304. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996 (based on March Current Population Surveys).
 
 

Figure EA 1.6.B  
Percentage of 25- to 29-Year-Old High School Graduatesa Who Have Received a Bachelors Degree,b by Race/Ethnicity: 1971-1995  

EA1_6B.GIF

Note: a12 years of school completed for 1971-1991, and high school diploma or equivalency certificate for 1992-1995. Beginning in 1992, the Current Population Survey (CPS) changed the questions used to obtain the educational attainment of respondents.
bThis was measured as 4 or more years of college, 1971 - 1991, and as Bachelors degree or higher, 1993-1995.

Source: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. The Condition of Education 1996, NCES 96-304. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996 (based on March Current Population Surveys).

Table EA 1.6 
Percentage of 25- to 29-Year-Old High School Graduatesa Who Have Attended Some College or Who Have Received a Bachelors Degree or Higher, by Race/Ethnicity: Selected Years, 1971-1995
 

 
 
 
1971 
1975 
1981 
1985 
1991 
1992 
1993 
1994 
1995 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Some College or Moreb
Total
44 
50 
50 
51 
53 
57 
59 
61 
62 
Race/Ethnicity
 
White, non-Hispanic
45 
51 
51 
52 
55 
59 
61 
63 
65 
 
Black, non-Hispanic
31 
39 
43 
43 
43 
45 
48 
50 
52 
 
Hispanic
31 
41 
40 
44 
42 
47 
49 
52 
50 
 
Bachelors Degree or Higherc
Total
22 
26 
25 
26 
27 
27 
27 
27 
28 
Race/Ethnicity
 
White, non-Hispanic
23 
28 
26 
27 
30 
30 
30 
30 
31 
 
Black, non-Hispanic
12 
15 
15 
14 
13 
14 
16 
16 
18 
 
Hispanic
11 
17 
13 
18 
16 
16 
14 
13 
16 
 
Note: aHigh School completion or high school graduate is defined as 12 years of school completed for 1971 - 1991, and high school diploma or equivalency certificate for 1992 - 1995. Beginning in 1992, the Current Population Survey (CPS) changed the questions used to obtain educational attainment of respondents.  
bThis was measured as "1 or more years of college," 1971 - 1991, and as "some college or more," 1993-1995.  
cThis was measured as "4 or more years of college," 1971 - 1991, and as "Bachelors degree or higher," 1993-1995.  

Source: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. The Condition of Education 1996, NCES 96-304. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996 (based on March Current Population Surveys).

 

13 National Education Goals Panel. (1995). The National Education Goals Report: Building a Nation of Learners 1995. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

14 Note that the measure of college attendance changed from "1 or more years of college" in 19711991 to "some college or more" in 19921995. Similarly, the measure of college completion changed from "4 or more years of college" in 19711991 to "Bachelors degree or higher" in 19921995.

15 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.
 

View full report

Preview
Download

"97intro.pdf" (pdf, 97.9Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec1.pdf" (pdf, 163.75Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec2.pdf" (pdf, 235.24Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec3.pdf" (pdf, 269.73Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec4.pdf" (pdf, 331.35Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"97-sec5.pdf" (pdf, 202.8Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®