National Education Longitudinal Study 1988-1994, Descriptive Summary Report
The essay presented in this report used data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 eighth graders to examine postsecondary access and choice issues confronted by this nationally representative cohort in both 1992 (as high school seniors) and in 1994 (two years out of high school). The analysis focuses on potential barriers to access and choice as experienced by women, racial and ethnic minorities, and those in lower socioeconomic groups. Special attention was paid to students who scored in the highest quartile of the 1992 math and reading test composite.
Nearly 63 percent of 1988 eighth graders had attended some type of postsecondary education by 1994 (Table 6A). Of those attending postsecondary education, about 57 percent matriculated at public or private four-year colleges or universities; 36 percent enrolled in public two-year institutions; and the remainder (7 percent) attended trade or technical programs of shorter duration (Table 10A).
In 1988, 66 percent of the 1988 eighth graders who participated in both the 1988 and 1992 surveys expressed the expectation of attaining at least a bachelor's degree, and an additional 22 percent expected to obtain some postsecondary education (Table 1).
There was a five percent decline between 1988 and 1992, from 66 percent to 61 percent, in the percentage of the 1988 eighth grade cohort expecting to attain a bachelor's degree or higher (Table 1).
High school transcripts for this cohort indicate that approximately 62 percent of the cohort pursued programs that would constitute college preparation; 38 percent were enrolled in general or vocational tracks (Table 2A).
By 1994, 81 percent of 1988 eighth graders had received a regular high school diploma. Another 6 percent had earned a GED certificate (Table 3A).
By the spring of 1992, about 40 percent of 1988 eighth graders had not submitted any postsecondary applications; of those who had applied, 88 percent had completed at least two applications (Table 5A).
Almost three-fourths of 1988 eighth graders who enrolled in four-year institutions attended them in their home state (Table 16A).
Approximately 71 percent of cohort members who attended a four-year institution indicated that the college or university they attended represented their first or second choice (Table 17A).
Over 96 percent of 1988 eighth graders who attended four-year institutions were enrolled full-time (Table 18A).
A greater percentage of females than males in the 1988 eighth grade cohort reported in 1992 that they expected to obtain a bachelors or higher degree (Table 1). In choosing a college, a greater percentage of women than men reported being concerned about the institution's reputation (Table 11A) and about the crime rate (Table 15A).
Greater percentages of Asians or Pacific Islanders in the cohort reported expectations for a bachelors or higher degree (Table 1), had graduated from high school by 1994 (Table 3A), and had enrolled in postsecondary education by 1994 than any other racial/ethnic group (Table 6A). Hispanics who were in the eighth grade in 1988 were more inclined than any other racial/ethnic group to enroll in public two-year institutions (Table 10A). Blacks in this cohort enrolled in private four-year institutions at rates comparable to Asians and whites (Table 10A).
There were no significant differences by sex or race/ethnicity in the access and choice variables for 1988 eighth grade cohort members who scored in the highest quartile in the 1992 achievement test. However, respondents in the highest socioeconomic status quartile had a higher rate of expectation for a bachelor's or higher degree (Table 1), a higher graduation rate (Table 3B), a greater percentage reporting filing two or more postsecondary applications by 1992 (Table 5B), and a smaller percentage delaying entry (Table 10B).