The Class of 1980, Two Years Later

November 21, 1984 2 min read

As of two years after their graduation, some 63 percent of the members of the senior class of 1980 had enrolled in some sort of postsecondary training; another 8 percent, however, were unemployed.

Those are among the findings of the first follow-up survey by the National Center for Education Statistics in its major longitudinal study of high-school students, “High School and Beyond.”

The follow-up survey for the national study of 58,000 students involved about 12,000 seniors out of the original 28,000. A similar follow-up survey of those who were sophomores in 1980 will be released next month.

Of the 1980 seniors in some kind of postsecondary institution, 35 percent attended a four-year college, 25 percent a two-year college, and 8 percent, a vocational or technical school. The percentages were just about even for men and women, the study noted.

Some 75 percent of the 1980 seniors who had entered a four-year college by June 1981 stayed in the same college through February 1982, while 15 percent transferred and 10 percent withdrew, according to the follow-up data. Students from low-income backgrounds were less likely than students from high-income backgrounds to enter a four-year college and more likely to withdraw once enrolled, the survey noted.

More men entered the engineering, physical sciences, or mathematics fields, while more women entered the traditionally female-dominated fields of health and education. Education attracted only about 5 percent of the seniors from the top quartile, while 12 percent from the bottom quartile went into that field; a similar pattern characterized the business field, where 21 percent from the top quartile entered the major, compared with 32 percent from the bottom quartile.

The survey also found that 40 percent of the students from the Northeast entered four-year colleges, compared with 26 percent of those in the West; 38 percent of the students in the West entered two-year colleges, compared with 20 to 23 percent in other regions of the nation.

For those graduates who sought jobs rather than college, “the high unemployment rate was a major8problem,” the report noted. "[T]he 1980 graduate experienced fierce competition from a large pool of slightly older adults during a period of limited job opportunities.”

The study found that the unemployment rate for 1980 seniors started out at 18 percent in June 1980 but “dropped quickly to 8 percent that fall and remained fairly constant at the 7-to-9-percent level through February 1982.”

On the average, “1980 seniors felt better about themselves in the spring of 1982 than they did when they were high-school seniors,” the survey showed. There was a major shift toward “placing a higher value on family goals,” and some 16 percent of the women and 8 percent of the men had married.

The study also found that there was a “growth in interest in correcting social and economic inequalities,” but the respondents’ “desire to be a community leader” decreased somewhat, as did their “concern with having lots of money.”

The National Center for Education Statistics plans to release a follow-up study of the 1980 sophomores and seniors every two years for the next 10 years.--at