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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Will Today’s Generation Be Less Educated Than Parents?

(Flickr/University of Leicester)

(Flickr/University of Leicester)

It’s back to college time and more students than ever are attending this year.

College enrollment has been trending up for over a decade and according to a new study by the  Pew Research Center, it’s now at a historic high. In 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, there were 12 million students in college between ages 18 and 24.

Now here’s the “but.”

For every five students who start in community college, only one finishes within three years, even though community college programs are supposed to be two years or less.

The numbers at four year colleges are not much better — only around half the students who enroll manage to get their Bachelors’ degrees in six years.

Reporter Jon Marcus says that statistics like those “have helped push the U.S. from first to 10th in the world” for the proportion of college graduates.

Marcus says this generation of college-age Americans could become “the first to be less-well educated than their parents.”

President Obama vowed to reverse that trend in a major speech at Macomb Community College in Michigan in 2009.

Marcus visited Macomb this year and says that things have gotten “much, much worse” for public and community college students.

Marcus says severe budget cuts have translated into higher tuition and fees and less financial aid, forcing students to work more while they go to school. The budget cuts also mean fewer classes, making it harder for students to find room in required courses.

Guest:

  • Jon Marcus, reporter with the non-partisan and non-profit education news outlet, The Hechinger Report

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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