1/3 of young Americans hold college degrees

One-third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, accordin to a Pew study. That’s a new high. Sixty-three percent have completed at least “some” college. And 90 percent have a high school diploma or GED.

With fewer job prospects, young adults are staying in school, Pew reports. In addition, many more people believe a college education is necessary to get ahead in life. In a 2010 Gallup poll, 75 percent said a college education is “very important,”up from 36 percent In 1978.

However, the U.S. higher education system is no longer the best in the world, according to a 2011 Pew survey of college presidents.  “College presidents are concerned about the quality, preparedness and study habits of today’s college students,” Pew reports. Fifty-two percent say college students today study less than their predecessors did a decade ago; just 7 percent say they study more.


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  1. Unfortunately, in terms of increased knowledge and skills, a non-insignificant number of the diplomas aren’t worth the paper on which they are printed. It’s pure credentialism and lots of employers aren’t impressed; hence the number of grads working as baristas, in retail sales and in other positions not requiring a college degree. Of course, the state of the economy doesn’t help and I don’t see it improving in the near future.

  2. Momof4,

    It used to be persons proved themselves in the workforce by starting at the bottom and working upwards, now granted, some positions actually require a 4 year college degree, but in many cases, most positions could be handled with proper certification or a two year associate’s degree in a given field.

    The idiots in HR and employers seem to think that bachelor’s degree == instant success. The actual fact is that any newly minted degree holder (on average) is going to be learning the ropes for at least 3-4 months before they will start being productive on their own.

    If you look at the typical degrees being issued/awarded, how many are in subject matter which is relevant to actually landing a job, or better yet, turning it into a career which will last 30 or so years? I’m in agreement that the future right now doesn’t look as rosy as the politicos try to paint it.

  3. Because so many people go to college, the group that doesn’t go to college is comprised of people that aren’t terribly employable.
    College doesn’t teach many things that are important for a preschool or child care teacher. However, the people that don’t go to college tend to have a smaller vocabulary, non-standard grammar, etc. This means that if you want your child to be cared for by someone with these skills, you need to look for someone with a college degree (or at least a community college degree).
    I would think that this would also be true for many other fields.

    • Even many of the college grads, and especially the CC grads, aren’t able to replicate the upper-middle class child-rearing practices because they don’t have that knowledge,skills, speech/vocab habits, values and priorities of that group. That’s the problem with the idea that “high-quality” preschool is the answer; there aren’t enough “high-quality” teachers available; it’s simply not a scalable situation (even if you don’t consider the willingness of such teachers to teach in urban areas of questionable safety) I’m also not convinced that “high-quality” preschool can remediate the deficiencies of the rest of the kids’ lives, because the kids continue to live those lives.

  4. Stacy in NJ says:

    College degrees are just another class sorting mechanism. We used to use class, race and religion, but our progressive betters determined this was unfashionable and socially acceptable no longer and created a new sorting mechanism that, not accidentally, financially enriches them while ensuring they sacrifice nothing of any real value to themselves. The sacrifice and cost is borne by people less skilled at rent seeking.

    Humorously we call this a “meritocracy”.

    Instead of teaching “critical reading skills” in elementary school, we should be teaching rent seeking skills.

  5. There are way too many Universities in this country, offering way too many degrees to way too many people who shouldn’t have a formal degree in anything at all – they sould have went to vocational school and got licensed in whatever career they were best meant for.