It’s College Time!

by | Aug 23, 2017


My oldest daughter is off to college today.  So, here are some interesting facts about college:

  • In the U.S. 88% of adults over 25 have graduated high school while 32.5% have a bachelor’s degree and just 12% have a graduate degree.
  • Do those undergrad and grad percentages look low? Actually, educational attainment has steadily risen over the past 75 years.  Chart from Census Bureau:educational-attainment-5404196
  • Competition for students and other factors has led to grade inflation – this was discussed in a prior IFOD here:
  • Research in a 2011 book by an NYU professor entitled “Academically Adrift” found that undergraduates, as a whole, do not learn very much academically during their four years of college.  Testing of 2,300 students over their college careers found that 36% of students didn’t improve on a standardized test of skills and knowledge you would expect to learn in college. And most of the remaining 64% did not show large gains in knowledge.
  • Notwithstanding grade inflation and questionable academics, attending college seems to be worth it financially as college graduates earn a lot more than non-graduates.  Chart from a Pew Research Study:
  • sdt-higher-education-02-11-2014-0-03-233x300-5100738
  • College graduates are also much less likely to earn below the poverty level (5.8% for college grads vs. 21.8% for high-school grads) and have much lower unemployment rates (3.8% for college grads vs. 12.2% for high-school grads – as of March 2013).
  • But college is expensive.  In the 1970s and 80s college costs increased similar to or less than inflation.  Starting in about 1990 college costs took off.


  • Average cost of college from The College Board:


Your Mom Goes to College: Kip – Napoleon Dynamite


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