“Pew Research Center: Social and Demographic Trends”
The report from the Washington-based Pew Research Center notes that of the nation’s adults ages 25 to 29, 90 percent have finished at least a high school education, 63 percent have completed at least some college, and 33 percent now hold at least a bachelor’s degree.
In comparison, in 1971, only 12 percent of adults in that same age group had completed at least a four-year college degree, 22 percent had finished some college, and 57 percent had completed at least high school.
Authors Richard Fry and Kim Parker note that the new levels of education are seen as the U.S. population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, a trend that some experts had predicted might hurt the nation’s progress in educational attainment. The analysis finds record levels of college completion among all groups: men and women; blacks, whites, and Hispanics; and foreign- and native-born Americans.
The Pew researchers credit the recent increases in educational attainment, in part, to the sluggish job market from the Great Recession, which prompted more students to pursue higher education. Also, the report says, more young Americans are recognizing the importance of going to college to succeed in an increasingly knowledge-based labor market.
The analysis is based on data from the March edition of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which spans 1971 to 2012.
A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2012 edition of Education Week as K-12 and College Completion Rates Set Record