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Executive Summary

Postsecondary Education

Enrollment Rates for 18- to 24-Year-Olds

A higher percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled in either college or graduate school in 2010 than in 2006 (43 vs. 40 percent), a pattern that held for males and females. In 2010, as in every year since 1980, a lower percentage of male than female 18- to 24-year-olds were enrolled either in college or graduate school (39 vs. 47 percent). This pattern was also observed for Whites (43 vs. 51 percent), Blacks (31 vs. 43 percent), Hispanics (26 vs. 36 percent), American Indians (24 vs. 33 percent), and persons of two or more races (40 vs. 49 percent).

Entry to Postsecondary Education

In 2006, about 80 percent of 2004 high school graduates had ever attended a postsecondary institution. Among the graduating class, 71 percent enrolled immediately after graduation from high school, and 9 percent delayed enrollment. The percentage of females with immediate postsecondary enrollment (74 percent) was higher than that of males (67 percent). This pattern held for White, Hispanic, and Asian students as well. A higher percentage of females (83 percent) than males (76 percent) had attended a postsecondary institution by 2006, a pattern that was also observed among White (85 vs. 78 percent, respectively), Hispanic (76 vs. 68 percent, respectively) and Asian (92 vs. 88 percent, respectively) high school graduates.

Among 2004 high school graduates, a higher percentage of females first attended 4-year institutions than males (50 percent vs. 46 percent, respectively). This pattern by sex was also observed among White and Asian high school graduates. No measurable differences by sex were found among Black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native graduates, nor among high school graduates of two or more races.

Financial Aid

In 2007–08, a higher percentage of female than male undergraduates received financial aid (82 vs. 77 percent). The same pattern was also observed for White, Hispanic, and Asian males and females. Also, in 2007–08, about 53 percent of full-time, full-year undergraduates received student loans to pay for their expenses; among students who received student loans, the average annual amount of total student loans was $8,000. A higher percentage of females than males received student loans (55 vs. 50 percent). The same pattern was also observed for White and Black males and females. However, among students who took out student loans, the average amount of student loans was similar for males and females overall and within each racial/ethnic group.

Enrollment Intensity

Over the duration of a student's enrollment, a student can enroll full time entirely, enroll part time entirely, or mix full-time and part-time enrollment (i.e., change enrollment status during the enrollment duration). During the 2007–08 academic year, a higher percentage of males than females enrolled as full-time students (49 vs. 47 percent), but no measurable differences (overall or by race/ethnicity) were found between the percentages of male and female undergraduates who enrolled on a part-time basis. Lower percentages of Black (46 percent), Hispanic (45 percent), and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (34 percent) undergraduate males enrolled as full-time students than Asian (50 percent), White (51 percent), and undergraduate males of two or more races (53 percent). In addition, the full-time percentage was higher for Hispanic and Black males than for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander males.

Persistence and Attainment

Approximately 49 percent of 2003–04 beginning postsecondary students had attained some type of postsecondary degree (i.e., certificate, associate's degree, or bachelor's degree) by June 2009. A lower percentage of male than female students had attained a postsecondary degree during that time (46 vs. 52 percent). Although this pattern was also observed for White males and females (51 vs. 57 percent) and Asian males and females (48 vs. 68 percent), no measurable differences by sex were found for other racial/ethnic groups. Also, among 2003–04 full-time beginning postsecondary students who first attended a 4-year institution, a lower percentage of males than females had attained a bachelor's degree by June 2009 (64 vs. 72 percent). Across racial/ethnic groups, the percentages of Black (51 percent) and Hispanic (52 percent) full-time students at 4-year institutions who attained bachelor's degrees were lower than the percentages of students of two or more races (66 percent), White students (73 percent), and Asian students (76 percent) who attained a bachelor's degree. The same patterns of attainment across race/ethnicity were observed among both males and females, with the exception of students of two or more races.

The percentage of 2003–04 beginning postsecondary male students who did not persist in their education (i.e., had no degree and were no longer enrolled in a postsecondary institution by June 2009) was higher than that of their female peers (37 vs. 35 percent). This pattern was also observed between White males and White females; however, no measurable differences were observed between males and females of any other racial/ethnic group.

Figure 6. Percentage of 2003–04 full-time, beginning postsecondary students who first attended a 4-year institution and attained a bachelor’s degree by June 2009, by race/ethnicity and sex: 2009

Reasons for Leaving College Without Completing

A higher percentage of male than female students who began at a postsecondary institution in 2003–04 left college by 2004 without completing a degree or certificate program (17 vs. 15 percent). The same pattern was observed between White males and females (17 vs. 14 percent); however, no measurable differences were found between males and females within other racial/ethnic groups. A lower percentage of White males than Black males left in 2004 without completing (17 vs. 22 percent); and the percentage of Asian males who left without completing (9 percent) was lower than the percentages of White males, Hispanic males (19 percent), males of two or more races (20 percent), and Black males. Among 2003–04 beginning postsecondary students who left in 2004 without completing a degree or certificate program, 31 percent reported that they left their institution due to financial reasons, with a higher percentage of males than females reporting financial reasons for leaving (40 vs. 23 percent). The difference between males and females who left due to financial reasons followed a similar pattern for White students, Hispanic students, and students of two or more races.

Remedial Coursework and Other Academic Experiences

In 2007–08, a lower percentage of male than female first-year undergraduates reported that they had taken a remedial course in college (33 vs. 39 percent). This pattern was observed for White, Hispanic, and American Indian/ Alaska Native males and females, as well as males and females of two or more races.

Other academic experiences of students during their first 2 or 3 years as undergraduates were also examined. In 2006, higher percentages of males than females had received a grade of incomplete (17 vs. 15 percent), had repeated a course for a higher grade (25 vs. 22 percent), or had withdrawn after the add/drop deadline (33 vs. 29 percent). The percentage of males who had changed their major was not measurably different from the percentage of females who had done so.

Academic and Social Integration

Among 2003–04 beginning postsecondary students who had recently graduated from high school, a lower percentage of male (72 percent) than female (77 percent) students reported that they sometimes or often met with an advisor during their first year of college. Also, a lower percentage of male (33 percent) than female students (37 percent) participated in school clubs in their first year of college. For males, lower percentages of Hispanic (28 percent), Black (29 percent), and White students (34 percent) participated in clubs than did Asian students (43 percent). A higher percentage of male (35 percent) than female students (23 percent) participated in sports during their first year of college. This pattern of sports involvement by sex was also observed for Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and students of two or more races. Among male students, lower percentages of beginning Hispanics (23 percent) and Blacks (30 percent) than beginning Whites (38 percent) participated in sports.

College Student Employment

In 2010, approximately 71 percent of undergraduates ages 16 to 24 were employed. A lower percentage of male than female undergraduates were employed (70 vs. 73 percent); however, a higher percentage of males than females worked 35 or more hours per week (22 vs. 17 percent). Within racial/ethnic groups, the percentage of males who were employed was lower than that of females for Whites (76 vs. 79 percent), Blacks (57 vs. 62 percent), and Asians (49 vs. 52 percent). There were no measurable differences between the employment rates of males and females among Hispanics, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and students of two or more races. White males (76 percent), males of two or more races (72 percent), American Indian males (65 percent), Hispanic males (64 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander males (62 percent), and Black males (57 percent) were employed at higher percentages than were Asian males (49 percent). In addition, Hispanic males were employed at a higher percentage than Black males.

Graduation Rates and Degrees Conferred

About 58 percent of all first-time students seeking bachelor's degrees who started at a 4-year college full time in 2004 completed a bachelor's degree at that same college within 6 years. A higher percentage of females than males completed bachelor's degrees within 6 years (61 vs. 56 percent). This pattern held across all racial/ethnic groups, with the greatest difference between Black females and males (a 9 percentage point difference) and the smallest difference between American Indian/Alaska Native females and males (a 3 percentage point difference). Among males, Asian/Pacific Islanders had the highest percentage completing bachelor's degrees within 6 years (66 percent), followed by White (59 percent), Hispanic (46 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (37 percent), and Black males (34 percent).

In 2010, postsecondary degree-granting institutions conferred a total of 3.4 million associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees. Of this total, 25 percent were associate's degrees, 49 percent were bachelor's degrees, 21 percent were master's degrees, and 5 percent were doctor's degrees. About 25 percent of all bachelor's degrees conferred were in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields of study. A higher percentage of males than females earned bachelor's degrees in STEM fields (28 vs. 22 percent). This pattern was observed across all racial/ethnic groups, with the greatest difference observed between both Hispanic males and females and Asian/Pacific Islander males and females (a 7 percentage point difference each). The smallest difference was observed between Black males and females (a 2 percentage point difference). Among males, White and American Indian/Alaska Native students earned the same percentage of bachelor's degrees in STEM fields(27 percent each). A higher percentage of Hispanic than Black male students earned bachelor's degrees in STEM fields (24 vs. 22 percent).

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