Saturday, 2:15 PM
Education gains stall for latest generation
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Since World War II, if not before, it has been assumed that children were more likely to graduate from college than their parents. Now, those generational gains appear to have stalled.
About 35 percent of adults age 25 to 29 in 2006 had earned a college degree -- essentially the same number of adults 30 and older, the American Council on Education has found in a new report. Among Hispanics and American Indians, younger adults are less likely to have a two- or four-year college degree than previous generations.
The percentage of younger adults with a bachelor's degree was 26.9 percent in 2006, sharply lower than 29.3 percent in 2003. Forty percent of 18-24-year-olds were enrolled in college.
"It appears we are at a tipping point in our nation’s history," said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. "One of the core tenets of the American dream is the hope that younger generations, who’ve had greater opportunities for educational advancement than their parents and grandparents, will be better off than the generations before them, yet this report shows that aspiration is at serious risk."
In 2006, 18 percent of adult Hispanics had at least an associate degree, compared with 16 percent of younger Hispanics. Among American Indians, the figures were 21 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
The educational attainment rates of African-Americans remained steady at 24 percent.
Whites and Asian-Americans continued to graduate from college in higher numbers. Among Asian-Americans, 66 percent of young adults had earned a degree, compared with 54 percent of older adults. Among whites, the percentages were 41 percent among today's students, and 37 for the older generations.
Yet total minority enrollment at the nation's colleges and universities between 1995-2005 rose by 50 percent, from 3.4 million to 5 million. White enrollment increased 8 percent.
Women continue to outpace men. Among those age 18 to 24, 36 percent of men were enrolled in college in 2006 compared with 44 percent of young women. Women earn 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees awarded.
About 85 percent of the US population graduates from high school, a figure that has remained more or less steady over the past two decades.
In Massachusetts, overall college enrollment rose 7 percent between 1995 and 2005.
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