Latest Posts





An Expansion of Educational Opportunities Formerly Hard to Envision

In searching the other day for updated, albeit mundane college data I came across, as the statistical gods sometimes allow, truly remarkable enrollment data I had never seen before.  (Before going any further, I understand if your interest in reading any more of this is tepid, but I would urge you to do so, as the numbers show that lower-income students are making more progress in at least starting college than is commonly assumed.  This is good news.)

The key statistic is the “Immediate College Enrollment Rate” as calculated by the Census Bureau and reported by National Center for Education Statistics.  The rate is defined as the “annual percentage of high school completers who enroll in 2- or 4-year colleges in the fall immediately following high school completion.”

For the nation as a whole, the rate increased from 63 percent in 2000 to 70 percent in 2016.  Impressive.  Or, 2.2 million students out of 3.1 million completers enrolled in 2016.

The rate for students from high-income families in 2016 was 83 percent, which unsurprisingly was higher than for students from middle-income and low-income families.  But here is the big finding: “There was no measurable gap between low-income and middle-income students in 2016.”  Actually, while the gap wasn’t “measurable,” there was one: 67 percent compared to 64 percent, with low-income students on top.

Think about that.  Students from families with the lowest 20 percent of incomes enrolled in either a two-year or four-year college at the same rate as those from families with incomes in the middle 60 percent of incomes in 2016.

In addition, while the enrollment gap between students from high-income and low-income families was 30 percentage points in 2000, it had fallen to 16 percentage points in 2016.

And as for the gap between students from middle-income and low-income families, it fell from 12 percentage points in 2000 to the previously noted “no measurable gap” in 2016.

Do these numbers reflect what some might describe and favor as egalitarian heaven, or even its cusp?  Of course not.  Racial differences remain.  As does the fact upper-income students are more likely to attend four-year schools and lower-income students are more likely to attend two-year schools.  As does the fact that more-affluent students earn proportionately more four-year degrees and graduate degrees than do less-affluent students.

Still, do these data reflect substantial progress in expanding equal educational opportunities in the United States that was hard to envision not long ago?  My goodness, yes.




Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast Series: Winona

    Location: Signatures Restaurant, 22852 County Road 17, Winona, MN 55987

    Please join Center of the American Experiment Friday, March 6 at Signatures for a FREE breakfast with economist John Phelan.

    Register Now
  • Lunch Forum with Amity Shlaes

    Location: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Buy tickets for March 2nd HERE. About This Event: Enjoy our Early Bird Ticket Special through February 23rd! After this date, ticket price will increase to $30. Doors open at 11:30 AM, program and lunch begin at Noon. In Great Society, the New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidgeoffers a stunning revision of our last great period of idealism, the 1960s, with burning relevance for our contemporary challenges. Today, a battle rages in our country. Many Americans are attracted to socialism and economic redistribution while opponents of those ideas argue for purer capitalism. In the 1960s, Americans…

    Register Now
  • 2020 Annual Dinner Featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    Location: Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55403

    American President: The Unorthodox Approach to Politics that Changed the World. Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidant of the President, Sanders advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sanders was at the President’s side, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and staffing the President on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders. Sanders is only the third woman and the first mother to hold the job of…

    Register Now