United States Education Statistics

Goals

To have the following questions answered surrounding the number of people in the United States who: One; drop out of college each year, Two: drop out of college before finishing freshmen year, Three: do a gap year after high school before entering college, Four: decide to enroll in community college after high school, Five: are currently enrolled in a community college, and Six: have a 4 year bachelors degree.

Early Findings

Statistics Surrounding Drop Out Rates

  • According to Education Data, in the United States, "the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students is 40%, with approximately 30% of college freshman dropping out before their sophomore year." Interestingly, 40% of college dropouts have parents who didn’t complete college.
  • In 2019, fewer than half of Americans between the age of 25 and 35 obtained any credentials beyond a high school diploma.
  • Students with the highest student loans are less likely to drop out than those without loans or with smaller loans.
  • Students aged 19 or under are the age group least likely to drop out of college.
  • Asian students were the least likely group to drop out at either two- or four-year colleges, while 36% of American Indians/Alaska natives were more likely to drop out after two years at four-year colleges.
  • According to this 2019 Washngton Post article, 40% of undergraduates in the United States drop out of college. This supports the data point from Education Data.
  • The dropout rate is highest at community colleges. There, fewer than 40% graduate or transfer in six years, which is three times the national norm.

Gap Year Data

  • According to 2020 research completed by the Gap Year Association, the researchers came to the following conclusion: "[g]ap year interest and enrollment trends continue to grow. We don't know exactly how many US students take a gap year each year, but amongst our sources we are able to say that interest and enrollment is growing substantively."
  • According to this 2017 source, "more than 35% of high school students [were] thinking of taking a gap year." Thinking about it is not the same as doing, however.
  • "According to the AGA, a nonprofit that accredits gap year programs, between 30,000 and 40,000 students are taking time off for a semester or more. The group says that figure is up 23% year over year." However, this source is not ideal as it is from 2016.
  • The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade, revealed in a 2020 poll, that 17% of financially independent young Americans took a Gap year before college. This is in direct contrast to those non financially independent young Americans where that same percentage was 10%.

Community College Data

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • We have one hour for initial findings. We scanned to ensure all questions could be answered in the public domain. As a reminder, Wonder only uses publicly available sources. We do not have access to paid databases or paywalled reports, but we can cite them in research for reference only [in case purchase is desired]. If that is of interest, that would clearly have to be communicated to us in any reply. However, no indication of paid resources to add value to this research was seen in the discovery phase.
  • While some questions could be definitively answered, some could not. For example, a definitive number for the following question: "what is the number of people in the United States that do a gap year after high school before entering college?" This is not going to be available in the public domain. However, we presented four salient data points that help shed light on this. We can continue gathering these kinds of helpful findings should further research be desired, and will be reflected in our scopings below.
  • Two questions that we felt was answered definitively were "what is the number of people in the United States that drop out of college each year?" and "what is the number of people in the United States that drop out of college before finishing freshmen year?" However, we found a lot of demographic data that went with this question, and we could certainly examine and explore that in more detail, should that be desired.
  • We did not have time to provide any data points surrounding questions four, five, and six which were the number of Americans that have decided to enroll in community college after high school, the number of Americans that are currently enrolled in a community college, and the number of Americans that have a 4 year bachelors degree. We can address that in further research. HOWEVER, we did present one salient data point about community college enrollment being down, likely because of COVID-19.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Research proposal:

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