With a new blog format, it is a good time to explore the historical evolution of the USA decline in college success relative to some other nations, and our stagnant rates of college completion. The best new book is Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, The Race between Education and Technology, Harvard, 2008. High school graduation rates rose significantly between 1915 and 1950, but in the past 30 years have flatlined. So there is a stagnant pool of college prepared students.
Between the early 1950s and early 1980’s the share of bachelors degrees of young adults shot up by from 7% to 24% , but in the last 30 years has only risen to 32% ( and is now not increasing). Nearly all the recent increase in younger college grads is from women. Young men are not much beter educated than their fathers for the first time in USA history. Meanwhile 9 nations have overtaken our college graduation rate, and more are poised to do so. This blog will explore the many causes of these trends, but one of them is the failure to transfer from community colleges that enroll half of our young first year students.