Where are all the High School grads going?

More US Students are getting their diplomas than ever, but fewer are enrolling in college. Where are they going? This question was posed in an article in The Atlantic.

During the 2013-2014 school year, more than 82 percent of students got their high school diploma. This was up from 81 percent the year before. But that doesn’t mean more kids are going to college. Quite the opposite. Recently released numbers out of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center suggests that college-enrollment rates have actually decreased—and for the fourth straight year, all despite massive increases in federal aid for students who can’t afford tuition. The number of students enrolling in colleges and universities this year is 1.7 percent lower than it was last year. (The percentage of high-school graduates who immediately enrolled in college fell from 69 percent in 2008 to 66 percent in 2013.)

Something very different and quite noteworthy is happening at the K-12 level, though, where traditionally at-risk students, particularly kids of color, are responsible for the biggest improvements in high-school completion. Conversely, disadvantaged students, in this case those who are poor or coming from families without a history of going to college, are a big reason the college-enrollment numbers are going down, as are people over age 25. Based on U.S. Census Bureau figures, the percentage of students from low-income families attending college immediately after getting their high-school diplomas has declined by 10 percentage points since 2008, to 46 percent. Only those institutions that serve the largest percentages of disadvantaged students—two-year and for-profit colleges—have seen enrollment drop; it’s actually slightly increased or remained steady at four-year institutions. Many of these students don’t have the funds to attend college and are compelled to get a job (typically blue collar) right after high school.

But going the non-college route is increasingly impractical, even when the objective is a job that’s more vocational in nature. While a job may certainly be an appealing alternative to an increasingly costly postsecondary education, the college wage premium has risen drastically since the early 1980s. The Pew Research Center called this “the rising cost of not going to college” in a report last year, concluding, “On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. And when today’s young adults are compared with previous generations, the disparity in economic outcomes between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less formal schooling has never been greater in the modern era.” These economic benefits even affect those who start college but don’t complete it, according to some research. Moreover, if recent trends are any indication, the people who skip out on school altogether probably won’t ever get a chance to get their degrees.

What does this mean for you the Counselor? You are obviously counseling your students to look at all their options and helping them make the right decisions. Learning about Scholarships, grants, and other sources of college funding available to students is more important than ever. We have a FastWeb widget on our home page that can help your students search out specific scholarships for them.

Here is a link to the complete article:

Where are all the high school grads going?