College Admission Rates Dropping Across the U.S.

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by Mary Stoudt 

Since the year 2010, the college admission rate has been steadily decreasing across the United States. However, the number of high school graduates is at a record high. In 2016, a total of 85,107 students graduated high school in Virginia alone, but only 48,115 went directly into higher education. Some educators believe they know what may be causing the decrease, but none can be entirely sure.

Dietra Trent, state secretary of education, said, “Rising college costs and news of student debt could be a factor [of college enrollment decline]”. This year, the economy has been steadily increasing and the unemployment rate has been decreasing. Virginia’s unemployment rate was 7.4% in February, 2010. As of April, 2017, the unemployment rate in Virginia had dropped to 3.8%, a 3.6% difference. Across the U.S, jobs that do not require a college degree have been paying more and offering more advancements. Recent high school graduates are being drawn to the immediate pay rather than attending school for 4 or more years.

Even though jobs that do not require a college degree are beginning to pay more, those who graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree still tend to earn more than those who do not. On average, a high school graduate earns $33,000 a year, while a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree earns $55,000 a year. Jobs that do not require a college degree are beginning to pay more, which is attractive to recent high school graduates. However, the cost of living is increasing and inflation of the American dollar is increasing which is causing a raise in minimum wage. In Virginia the average cost of living is $33,439 for one person, which is high compared to the national average which is $28,155. As for inflation, the rate has increased to 2.15%. Due to increases in the cost of living and inflation, businesses have been forced to increase their pay so people are able to survive. Even though jobs that do not require a college degree are paying more, there is a reason for the increase.

Some high school graduates nd going straight into the workforce bene cial. Entering the workforce directly after high school can give someone work experience, allow them to make connections, give them the chance to bulk up their resume, and simply just take a year off of school.

A high school graduate who goes directly to college after high school is also able to earn work experience at college, as well as make connections, and improve their resume through what they do while at college. The main difference between entering the workforce or entering college right away is the time off from school. Recently, the amount of students taking a gap year has increased across the United States. Gap Year Expert Laura R. Hosid said, “[gap years] offer students an opportunity to travel, explore different interests, and gain experience and maturity before beginning college.” More and more high school graduates are taking a gap year to experience the work force and to also take a break from the normal school system.

Across the nation, college admission rates are decreasing at a staggering rate. Factors such as an increase of better paying jobs that do not require a college degree, a gap year trend, tuition rates increasing, and location all play into a drop in college admission rates. Some educators have theories on why admission rates are dropping, but it is impossible to nail down only one cause for the decrease.

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