Who’s Bachelor-Degree Bound? Predictors in pursuing post-secondary education in the US.

Without looking at the cold statistics, most of us realize that college enrollment rates have soared. Today, most jobs require if not highly recommend advanced education beyond the high school diploma, and our current youth has taken note! According to the current 2012 census bureau figure , over 30% of people now hold at least a Bachelor Degree, and that number is expected to climb!

While 3/10 adults is impressive, it still represents a minority figure. So, who exactly IS pursuing post-secondary education?

1. White people.

Despite slight increases in minority enrollment and a slight fall in white enrollment, the overall research on racial differences on college campuses has not significantly changed. 62% of white students attend college, compared to 12% of Hispanics, 7% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 14% of Blacks, and 3% non-resident aliens. 

2. Women.

Females currently exceed males. 37% of women over age 25 currently hold a degree compared to 35% of men. While this may not seem like a huge difference, keep in mind that men have been attending universities for much longer than women! Moreover, women are also outnumbering men with graduate school enrollment.

3. Children of College-Educated Parents

One study indicated that the number of years parents attended school was strongly associated with the number of years they expected their child to go to school. In other words, mothers holding a doctorate degree are more likely to expect their child to pursue the same level of education than mothers with a high school education. These parents “pressure” their children to attend college. Furthermore, because they can speak about their own collegiate experiences, these parents are often more likely to be able to assist with homework, the application process, etc.

4. Bookworms

Children who claim to like or love reading are more likely to apply to college. This can be attributed to an overall enjoyment of learning, higher cognitive and critical thinking skills, or maybe the confidence in knowing they can tackle those intensive textbooks! Self-proclaimed bookworms are also more likely to achieve academic success throughout primary and secondary school.

5. Socioeconomic Status

Money may not buy intelligence, but it can pay for an education. The richer you are, the more likely you are to attend college. High socioeconomic status is associated with high-achieving school districts, college-educated parents holding careers that require advanced education, and financial security. Student often have access to private tutoring, SAT and ACT-prep classes, college visits, and meetings with recruiters and representatives.On the other hand, lower-socioeconomic school districts are often cash-strapped, plagued by poverty with an overcrowded student population. The school cannot necessarily provide ample resources, parents may be unable to help with homework due to long work hours or an inability to understand the material, and financial woes often make the college price-tag appear out-of-reach.

So, if you do happen to run into a wealthy, white, 10-year-old bookworm female with college-educated parents, you can bank on her applying to college!





Davis-Kean, P. E. (2005). The Influence of Parent Education and Family Income on Child Achievement: The Indirect Role of Parental Expectations and the Home Environment. Journal Of Family Psychology, 19(2), 294-304. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.19.2.294.

Holland, N. E. (2010). Postsecondary education preparation of traditionally underrepresented college students: A social capital perspective. Journal Of Diversity In Higher Education, 3(2), 111-125. doi:10.1037/a0019249

National Center for Education Statistics, 2012

U.S Census Bureau, 2012


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