Young Adults, College Paths and Race: What the Data Say

Posted March 13, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Racial and ethnic disparities exist along the pathway to a college degree.

In 2016, 13% of 18- to 24-year-olds were not work­ing and had no degree beyond high school. This rate has steadi­ly declined since 2011, while the rate of young adults attend­ing or com­plet­ing col­lege — 49% in 2016 — is on the rise.

Despite both sta­tis­tics mov­ing in the right direc­tion, deep racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties per­sist along the path­way to a col­lege degree. For exam­ple: In 2016, just 27% of young adults who iden­ti­fied as Amer­i­can Indi­an were enrolled in col­lege or had grad­u­at­ed col­lege. This same sta­tis­tic jumps to 76% for young adults who iden­ti­fied as Asian and Pacif­ic Islander.

Disparities by race for youth ages 18 to 24 who are enrolled in or completed college

As Amer­i­ca con­tin­ues to grow increas­ing­ly diverse, it is crit­i­cal that all chil­dren and young adults — regard­less of their demo­graph­ic details — have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to access the skills and edu­ca­tion need­ed to thrive in tomor­row’s employ­ment landscape.

Access more edu­ca­tion data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center:

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