College Continuation Rates for Recent High School Graduates in 2005
The college continuation rate for 2005 high school graduates was 68.6%--the highest on record since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting these data in 1959. This broke the previous record of 67.0% set in 1997. Out of 2,675,000 high school graduates 1,834,000 were enrolled in college by October 2005.
Overall this is good news. A growing share of recent high school graduates have heard the message that high school is no longer sufficient to get good jobs and live a middle class American lifestyle. And they have acted on it. But scratch beneath the surface of this data and the picture quickly turns mixed. The good news is that:
- White high school graduates were enrolled in college at a record high rate of 69.4%.
- Male high school graduates were also enrolled at a record high rate of 66.5%. But this is just barely above the rate of 63.2% in 1968. Seems that boys appreciate college more during times of war.
- The non-white college continuation rate was at a record high of 65.2%, but this was entirely due to the rate of 82.2% for those of other race (mainly Asians).
- The college continuation rates for blacks and Hispanics were both down from previous highs. These numbers bounce around from year to year, so this may simply be a statistical spike. But they should be watched carefully. They are far below rates for whites.
- The gap between white and black college continuation rates has been widening since 1999.
- The gap between white and Hispanic rates is the widest for any major minority group.
- The share of college freshmen who were recent high school graduates that are enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities has declined steadily from 68.1% in 2001 to 65.0% in 2005.
- The white share of high school graduates has declined from 93% in 1960, to 89% by 1970, 84% by 1980, 77% by 1990, 70% by 2000 and 66% by 2005. The actual numbers have declined from a peak of 2.8 million in 1975 to 2.1 million by 2005.
- Between 1960 and 2005 the minority share of all high school graduates has increased from 7% to 34%. The number of minority high school graduates increased from 41 thousand in 1960 to 555 thousand by 2005.
- The white share of college freshmen has declined from 95% in 1960 to 70% by 2005. The minority share has increased from 5% to 30% during the last 35 years.