Closing the College Gap

Nicole Anderson, AVP of Social Innovation and President of AT&T Foundation; John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic; Robert Balfanz PhD, co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center and research scientist, Johns Hopkins University.
Dec 8, 2016 4:30 PM ET

For most of the last century, the United States led the world in educational attainment and the economic and social mobility of its people. As our advantage has been slipping in recent decades, leaders from the President to philanthropists have set goals for boosting the percentage of Americans who complete some form of college, so more Americans are prepared for the rigors of the workplace and being engaged members of society.

As part of this discussion, we set out to understand the relationship between increasing high school graduation rates over the last 15 years, and the progress and challenge in postsecondary enrollment and attainment. What we found in analyzing new and existing data on the educational attainment of three cohorts of 25-34 year olds is both encouraging and alarming.

The 25-34 year olds of today who graduated from high school by or before 2008 and from postsecondary education in 2014 or earlier, have the highest rate of postsecondary attainment in the nation’s history. While about one-third of this age cohort earned an associate degree or higher in the late 60s and early 70s, close to half of today’s 25-34 year olds have done so. When we add in quality certificates, this is the first group with more than half attaining postsecondary degrees and certificates. Of course, that means that about half have no such credential at a time when most jobs now require one.

Read the entire op-ed on The Huffington Post.