US College Student Demographics in 2012

September 12, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Hispanic | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

CensusBureau-College-Student-Enrollment-Demos-in-2012-Sept2013After growing by 3.2 million between 2006 and 2011, the number of Americans enrolled in college (undergraduate and graduate) fell by almost half-a-million last year to 19.9 million, or 6.7% of the population aged 3 and up, according to recent figures released by the US Census Bureau. The data tables contain some interesting demographic statistics on college students, who are estimated to command $117 billion in discretionary spending power.

Following are some key points derived from the data released by the Census Bureau (all figures pertain to combined undergraduate and graduate enrollment).

  • The number of female Americans enrolled in college was significantly higher than the number of males (11.3 million versus 8.6 million). That was not only due to higher population figures for females: 7.4% of the 3+ female population was enrolled in college, compared to 5.9% of the 3+ male population.
  • The number of non-Hispanic whites enrolled in college dropped by 1.1 million, and the number of black Americans enrolled declined 108,000. Hispanic enrollments, though, grew by almost 447,000.
  • Last year, 17% of all college students were Hispanic, up from 11% in 2006. The corresponding figures for non-Hispanic whites were 58% and 67%, respectively, while the share of college students who were black inched up from 14% to 15% during that time period.
  • The share of Hispanics aged 3 and older enrolled in college last year was 6.8%, slightly above the national average of 6.7%. Hispanic females (7.6%) once again had a higher rate of enrollment than males (6%). The total number of Hispanics enrolled in college was 3.4 million.
  • Black Americans demonstrated higher-than-average college enrollment rates, at 8% of the 3+ population – equaling just over 3 million enrolled. Female black Americans had a substantially higher enrollment rate (9.2% of the 3+ population) than their male counterparts (6.5%).
  • Asian Americans had the highest enrollment rates, at 9.4% overall. Contrary to the population at-large, the enrollment rate was higher among males (9.5%) than females (9.2%). However, given a larger population of females overall, the number of female Asian Americans enrolled in college was greater than the amount of males (6 million versus 5.2 million). Overall, 1.45 million Asian Americans were enrolled in college last year.
  • Non-Hispanic whites had the lowest enrollment rates. 6.2% of the 3+ group was enrolled in college last year, with females outpacing males (6.8% vs. 5.5%). A total of 11.65 million were enrolled in college.
  • 79% of college students were aged 18-24 last year. The number of 18-24-year-olds in college dropped by 48,000 from the previous year, while the number of college-enrolled Americans aged 25 and up fell by a much larger 419,000.
  • If a stereotype exists regarding the typical college student, it’s likely a non-Hispanic white individual in the 18-24 age range. Such individuals accounted for a minority 46.7% of all college enrollments last year.

Fun fact to end with: there were 40 14- or 15-year-olds enrolled in college last year.


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