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What Higher Ed Can Learn from New Education Trend Report

More kids are going to college, but it's much tougher for students who attend high-poverty schools. Study abroad is booming. And having a degree pays off big time in your paycheck.

These are just some of the research findings in The Condition of Education 2010 report released May 27 by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The congressionally mandated report provides an annual portrait of education in the United States, including early childhood, post-secondary education, student achievement, educational outcomes, and school environments.

Here are some of the highlights for those interested in higher ed issues:

• About 69 percent of students immediately enroll in two-year or four-year colleges after high school, but those from low-income families trail the rates of those from high-income families. The gap was 41 percentage points in 1972, and now has narrowed to 25 percentage points.

• From 2000 to 2008, undergraduate enrollment in post-secondary institutions increased by 24 percent to 16.4 million students, and it is expected to reach 19 million students in 2019. Private institutions are growing more quickly and women are outpacing men on campus.

• Among young adults ages 25-34 who worked full time throughout a full year, those with a bachelor's degree earned 28 percent more than young adults with an associate's degree, 53 percent more than young adult high school completers, and 96 percent more than young adults who did not earn a high school diploma.

• Overall, about 57 percent of first-time, full-year students completed a bachelor's degree within six years. This rate varied by type of institution: The six-year rate for private not-for-profit institutions was 64 percent, compared with 55 percent for public institutions and 25 percent for private for-profit institutions.

• The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who completed a bachelor's degree increased from 17 percent in 1971 to 29 percent in 2009. During this same period, bachelor's degree attainment more than doubled for blacks (from 7 to 19 percent) and Hispanics (from 5 to 12 percent) and nearly doubled for whites (from 19 to 37 percent).

• The number of U.S. college students studying abroad has quadrupled in the past two decades, from 62,000 in 1987-88 to more than 260,000 students in 2007-08—or about 15 out of every 100 students in a bachelor's degree program.

• Students who attend high-poverty schools perform persistently lower in math and reading achievement and are less likely to attend four-year colleges when compared to their peers in low-poverty schools. In 2007-08, according to school administrators, about 28 percent of high school graduates from high-poverty schools attended four-year colleges after graduation, compared to 52 percent of high school graduates from low-poverty schools.

For more information, see the Condition of Education website here.

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