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Statuses of Young Adults Two Years After High School

  • Overall, the percentage of young adults enrolled in postsecondary courses 2 years after senior year of high school was higher in 2006 (62 percent) than it was in 1974 (40 percent).
  • Correspondingly, the percentages of young adults currently working for pay and not enrolled was lower in 2006 (28 percent) than it was in 1974 (48 percent).2
  • Much of this change in enrollment and employment between 1974 and 2006—as for many of the other variables reported here—occurred in the first and second of three time periods over which change is reported in this report (that is, between the years 1974 and 1982, and then between 1982 and 1994) rather than in the third one, which extends from 1994 and 2006.
  • In 1974, more females than males were neither enrolled in postsecondary education nor working (18 percent versus 6 percent). By 2006, however, there were no detectable differences between the percentage of females and males who were neither enrolled nor working (10 percent versus 9 percent).
  • In comparing the four time points, all four major race/ethnicity groups saw increases in postsecondary enrollment 2 years after high school. Comparing 1974 with 2006, enrollment went from 69 percent to 78 percent for Asians,3 from 34 percent to 53 percent for Blacks, from 32 percent to 50 percent for Hispanics, and from 41 percent to 67 percent for Whites.
  • In all four cohorts, the percentages of those who were neither working for pay nor in school were higher among those whose 12th-grade educational expectations were for a high school diploma or less than all other expectation groups. Of those whose 12th-grade expectations were for a high school diploma or less, 23 percent in 1974, 22 percent in 1982, and 28 percent in both 1994 and 2006 were neither working for pay nor in school.

2 Those who reported both being enrolled in a postsecondary institution and working for pay were counted as being enrolled in a postsecondary institution only.
3 In this report, the race category Asian includes Pacific Islanders. The Pacific Islander category was not explicitly used in NLS:72; however, Pacific Islanders are likely to have opted for the Asian category as the closest fit.

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