Smaller Share Of US High School Grads Entering College. Why?

Career College Central summary:

  • The share of young Americans who head to college has been edging down, despite the major influence that education has on individual living standards. A new annual review finds that 65.9 percent of 2013 high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities as of last October. That compares with a 66.2 percent enrollment rate in 2012 and 68.3 percent in 2011.
  • All those numbers are below the all-time high of 70.1 percent in 2009, according to the Labor Department, which tracks the numbers and released its latest tally Tuesday. The share of high school grads heading for advanced degrees remains high compared with enrollment rates in many prior decades. To some degree, an improving job market may be one reason for the decline since 2009, as some young people opt for employment rather than more school.
  • But today’s enrollment rates are little changed from the late 1990s, despite efforts by President Obama and others to ramp up educational opportunities as a path to economic success – and despite polls showing that Americans view higher education as financially worthwhile. Meanwhile, nations that compete with the US for high-skill jobs have been boosting their rates of higher-education participation.
  • Economist Heidi Shierholz calls the US trend worrisome, particularly to the extent that a still-weak job market is making it hard for students to put themselves through school or for their parents to help them.

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