Education by the Numbers

Guest Blog by Melissa McCreery

Working in the higher education arena, I come across a lot of shocking statistical information—I mean truly shocking. For example, did you know student loan debt is currently hovering near the one trillion dollar mark? One trillion dollars. For the record, that’s a 1 followed by twelve zeros. That’s not only a shocking number, but a number that says something significant about higher education in our country.

Numbers and statistics are important to understanding the conversation on educationtoday. They can often tell a story – through their matter-of-factness – that words cannot adequately express. When we look at numbers as they relate to higher education, there is much we can learn.

  • Currently, twenty percent of all first- time undergrads take at least one remedial class.
  • Most college students (58.2%) under 30 attend school on a part time basis
  • In the United States today, only 11% of students from the bottom income quartile hold a college degree; compared with 79% of students from the upper income quartile who hold a college degree
  • In Oregon, for every 100 students that enter public 2- and 4-year colleges, only 38 graduate within an 8-year timeframe.
  • In Oregon, 28% of residents hold a 4-year college degree, compared with 38% nationally.
  • On a global scale, only 6.7% of the world’s population holds a 4-year college degree
  • In most states – and countries – the younger generation of adults is more educated than their elders. In Oregon, adults aged 25–34 are less educated than their parents’ generation, with fewer earning certificates or degrees beyond high school.

* Sources: USA Today (2012), NBC News Education Report, Complete College America, Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac (2012), Oregon Blue Book



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