Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
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.


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

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Experts share a range of perspectives on how to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the role the U.S. should play.

Robin and Jeremy

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

November 27 Comment

Books To Give As Gifts This Year

If you're looking to give a book to a friend or family member this holiday, NPR Books editor Petra Mayer shares her picks.

November 26 8 Comments

Arlo Guthrie Celebrates 50 Years Of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Listening to the 18-minute musical monologue has been a Thanksgiving tradition among folk music fans for decades.

November 26 Comment

One Refugee’s Story Of Coming To America

Paul Okot vividly remembers landing at JFK airport in New York at 7 years old, after fleeing violence in southern Sudan.

November 25 3 Comments

Rapper Le1f Finds Struggle And Moral Diversity In American Music

We've been asking musicians what they think of when they think "American music." Today we hear from Khalif Diouf, aka Le1f.