How Many High School Graduates Attend College?

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 2.2 million freshman students (68.6% of all 2008 high school graduates) were enrolled in college as of October of that year. Most experts agree that we’re only going to see that number rise, for various reasons:

  • The job market is more competitive, with many employers seeking degree-holding candidates when they would have hired high school grads in the past.
  • More of today’s students are second- and third-generation college students, with families encouraging them to go to school rather than join family businesses and pursue other options right out of high school.
  • There are more degree programs in various fields than there were in the past.
  • The amount of money college graduates make, as opposed to high school diploma holders, is growing larger and larger every year.

Most of the high school graduates who attend college in the fall are full time students. About 93.2% took a full class schedule in 2008, while only 38.5& of non-traditional students (such as older students working to complete new degrees) went to college full time. Around 60% of high school grads choose to attend four-year colleges every year, while others choose technical schools and two-year community colleges.

College really does make a difference when hunting for a job. Even if you don’t have a degree yet, it is much easier to find a job if you’re pursuing a degree. According to studies, the jobless rate breaks down as follows:

  • High school dropouts: 39.5%
  • High school graduates not in college: 26.7%
  • High school graduates enrolled in college: 14.9%

Keep in mind that “jobless” isn’t necessarily the same as “unemployed,” since jobless might also indicate that the person isn’t interested in holding a job. However, the unemployment rate for high school grads versus enrolled college students was 21.1% to 8% in 2008. In other words, college even makes it easier to find a job before you hold a degree.

Going to college has a number of benefits beyond just getting a job. When you enroll in college, you’ll also find that the following things work in your advantage:

  • You’ll meet new people who could potentially be life-long friends or even significant others.
  • You gain independence without being totally throw to your own devices suddenly.
  • You can network with alumni throughout your life.
  • You’ll get opportunities like studying abroad, playing sports, and so forth that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
  • You’ll learn about things that interest you.

You can read more advantages to college from the University of North Texas and the College Board. Of course, college isn’t for everyone. Many people are content with jobs they get directly out of high school, and some people are better off with on-the-job training, non-degree schooling, and other learning opportunities. The important thing to remember is that you should explore all of your post-high school options. Even if you didn’t enjoy learning in high school, college is a different beast entirely, and you may regret not giving it a chance.


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