It’s becoming more and more valuable to go to college, says Pew Research in a new study citing earning, socio-economic and job satisfaction gaps between youth who have degrees and those who don’t. Coincidentally, the Census Bureau recently released some figures pertaining to educational attainment in the US, showing that about 31.7% of Americans aged 25 years and older last year had earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional and/or Doctoral degree, up from 30.4% in 2011. That 31.7% figure drops to 28.9% among the 18 and older population, chiefly because a significant proportion of 18-24-year-olds have some college education but no degree (likely still in college).
(Note: For the purposes of this article, “College Graduate” refers to those adults with either of the 4 degrees described above, and does not include those with an Associate’s degree. This is in order to ensure consistency with Census Bureau descriptions.)
Since many 18-24-year-olds are in college rather than having completed a degree, it makes more sense to examine college attainment among the population aged 25 and above. Here are some quick hits among adults of that age (all data as of 2013):
- Men are slightly more likely than women to have at least a Bachelor’s degree (32% vs. 31.4%), with that 0.6-point gap down from a 3.9-point difference in 2001 (28.2% vs. 24.3%);
- The 25-34 age bracket is more likely to have completed a 4-year degree (34.7%) than the 35-54 bracket (33.6%) and the 55 and up crowd (28.2%);
- While men overall are more likely to have at least a Bachelors degree than women, among 25-34-year-olds women clearly take the lead (37.9% vs. 31.3%);
- Some 35.2% of non-Hispanic whites aged 25 and up have a college degree;
- That figure drops to 21.8% among Blacks (up from 15.7% in 2001) and 15% among Hispanics (up from 11.1% in 2001); but
- A fairly remarkable 53.2% of Asians have completed at least a 4-year degree;
- While 11.6% of adults aged 25 and up hold a graduate degree (12% male; 11.2% female), that rate is almost twice as high among Asian-Americans, of whom 22.6% have that level of educational attainment.
Fun fact to end with? According to the Census Bureau, there were 14,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 24 who had completed a Doctoral degree as of last year.
A summary of Census Bureau data concerning the demographics of college students in 2012 can be found here.