More U.S. students are graduating from high school and college than ever before, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. The increase in grads can be attributed in large to our changed economy. Since the 2007 recession, students have been drilled on the importance of having an education in order to land a job in a highly competitive job market. Adults have also returned to school to gain higher pay, change careers, or increase their level of education after a layoff.
The Pew Research Center analysis found:
- 90% of young adults (ages 25-29) in the U.S. have a high school education.
- 63% of young adults (ages 25-29) in the U.S. have completed at least some college.
The analysis also found significant changes in college populations over the last 30 years. In the 1970s:
- 36% of Americans said a college education is “very important.” (1978)
- 17% of the college-age population were non-white. (1971)
In the 2000s:
- 75% of Americans said a college education is “very important.” (2010)
- 44% of the college-age population is non-white. (2012)
Though the growing and diversifying population of high school and college grads are stabilizing us at home, experts question if it will be enough to keep our position as a global leader in higher education. Many developed countries are simultaneously working toward becoming a global power in higher education, and have a faster annual growth rate for graduates than the U.S.
As long as we keep growing minds in this knowledge-based economy, we can keep our edge and compete with other developed countries for the best innovators, jobs, schools, and teachers. As we prepare more students for the world of work than ever before, we also need to help them find their uniqueness in an evermore competitive and global workforce. We must emphasis entrepreneurial, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills. We must help students fuse the gap between high school or college graduation and a career. Now that we have more students dedicated to earning an education, we must work to give all equal access to the best education and help them make connections between their education and the rest of their lives.
“Record Shares of Young Adults Have Finished Both High School and College,” By Richard Fry and Kim Parker. 5 November 2012. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/11/05/record-shares-of-young-adults-have-finished-both-high-school-and-college/#overview