Dept. of Ed: Catholic H.S. Students Twice as Likely to Graduate College

By Terence P. Jeffrey | February 10, 2014 | 11:31am EST

(AP Photo/Ashlee Culverhouse)

( - Students who attended Catholic high schools were approximately twice as likely as students who attended public high schools to go on and graduate from college, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

According to the report, 61.9 percent of Catholic high school students went on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher by the time they were 8 years out of high school. By contrast, only 31.1 percent of public school students had gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The report—“Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Year Later”—looks at the results of a survey NCES did of a representatives sample of 13,133 Americans who were sophomores in high school in 2002. NCES first surveyed these individuals in 2002, when they were sophomores; then again in 2004, when they were high schools seniors; then again in 2006 when they were two years out of high school; and then again from July 2012 to February 2013, when they were approximately 8 years out of high school.

“This First Look report provides a descriptive portrait of these 2002 tenth-graders a decade later, when most were about 26 years old and had been out of high school for 8 years,” said the report.

Overall, 33.3 percent of the sample had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher by the time they were surveyed. That essentially matches the data NCES published in its Digest of Education Statistic for 2012, which showed that in that year 33.5 percent of Americans ages 25 to 29 had earned a bachelors’ degree or higher.

The NCES’s data shows that over the past half century the percentage of young Americans (25 to 29 years of age) who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher has approximately tripled. In 1960; it was 11.0 percent. 1970, it was 16.4 percent; in 1980, it was 22.5 percent; in 1990, it was 23.2 percent; in 2000, it was 29.1 percent in 2000; and, in 2010, it was 31.7 percent.

In NCES survey of Americans who were high school sophomores in 2002, the 31.1 percent of public school students who had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher lagged behind the overall national average of 33.3 percent.

Among students who had been enrolled in non-Catholic private schools, 57.1 percent had gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher; and, among students enrolled in Catholic schools, 61.9 percent had gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The NCES survey also found that high school students were more likely to go on to earn a college degree if they started college within three months of graduating from high school. 41.9 percent who did that went on to get a bachelor’s degree. However, only 21.2 percent who first enrolled in college between 4 and 12 months after graduating from college went on to earn a bachelor’s degree; and among those who waited 13 months or longer to enroll in college, only 5.5 percent went on to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Earning a bachelor’s degree, the survey showed, increased the likelihood a person would be employed and the income they were likely to earn.

Of the 13,133 who had been high school sophomores in 2002, 11.0 percent were unemployed at the time of the NCES’s survey eight years after their high school class had graduated. Among those who had not even finished high school, 25.9 percent were unemployed. Among those who had graduated from high school, but not attended postsecondary school, 15.0 percent were unemployed. But among those who had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, only 5.2 percent were unemployed.

Thirty-three percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher earned an income of $40,000 per year or more. Only 6.9 percent of the high school dropouts earned that much, and only 13.8 percent of those who had graduated from high school but not enrolled in postsecondary education.

The top job type among high school dropouts was “food preparation and serving related occupations.” 19.7 percent of high school dropouts had this kind of job.

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