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Indicators

Immediate College Enrollment Rate
(Last Updated: April 2020)

The immediate college enrollment rate for high school completers increased from 63 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2018. In 2018, about 44 percent of high school completers immediately enrolled in 4-year institutions and 26 percent immediately enrolled in 2-year institutions.

Of the 3.2 million 16- to 24-year-olds who completed high school in the first 9 months of 2018, some 2.2 million, or 69 percent, were enrolled in college in October 2018. In this indicator, high school completers include those who graduated with a high school diploma as well as those who completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential. This annual percentage of high school completers who are enrolled in 2- or 4-year institutions within the specified time frame is known as the immediate college enrollment rate. The overall immediate college enrollment rate increased from 63 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2018, though the 2018 rate was not measurably different from the rate in 2010.


Figure 1. Immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers, by level of institution: 2000 through 2018

Figure 1. Immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers, by level of institution: 2000 through 2018


NOTE: Immediate college enrollment rate is defined as the annual percentage of high school completers who are enrolled in 2- or 4-year institutions in the October immediately following high school completion. High school completers include those who graduated with a high school diploma as well as those who completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2018. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 302.10.


In every year from 2000 to 2018, higher percentages of high school completers immediately enrolled in 4-year institutions than in 2-year institutions. In 2018, about 44 percent of high school completers immediately enrolled in 4-year institutions and 26 percent immediately enrolled in 2-year institutions. The immediate college enrollment rate for 4-year institutions in 2018 was not measurably different from the rate in 2000. The rate for 2-year institutions was higher in 2018 (26 percent) than in 2000 (21 percent).


Figure 2. Immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers, by sex: 2000 through 2018

Figure 2. Immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers, by sex: 2000 through 2018


NOTE: Immediate college enrollment rate is defined as the annual percentage of high school completers who are enrolled in 2- or 4-year institutions in the October immediately following high school completion. High school completers include those who graduated with a high school diploma as well as those who completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2018. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 302.10.


The immediate college enrollment rate for male students1 increased from 60 percent in 2000 to 67 percent in 2018, while the rate for female students did not change measurably between these two years. As a result, the overall immediate college enrollment rate for male students was not measurably different from the rate for female students (71 percent) in 2018. Similarly, there were no measurable male-female differences in the immediate college enrollment rate at either 2-year institutions or 4-year institutions in 2018.


Figure 3. Immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers, by race/ethnicity: 2000 through 2018

Figure 3. Immediate college enrollment rate of high school completers, by race/ethnicity: 2000 through 2018


1 The separate collection of data on Asian high school completers did not begin until 2003.
NOTE: Immediate college enrollment rate is defined as the annual percentage of high school completers who are enrolled in 2- or 4-year institutions in the October immediately following high school completion. High school completers include those who graduated with a high school diploma as well as those who completed a GED or other high school equivalency credential. Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, percentages for racial/ethnic groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages, with the following exceptions: the percentages for 2018 were calculated based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2017 and 2018), and the 2003 percentage for Asian high school completers was based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2003 and 2004). From 2003 onward, data for White, Black, and Asian high school completers exclude persons identifying themselves as of Two or more races. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October Supplement, 2000 through 2018. See Digest of Education Statistics 2019, table 302.20.


The immediate college enrollment rate for White students2 was higher in 2018 (70 percent) than in 2000 (65 percent), as was the rate for Hispanic students (63 percent in 2018 vs. 49 percent in 2000). The immediate college enrollment rate for Black students in 2018 (62 percent) was not measurably different from the rate in 2000. The immediate college enrollment rate for Asian students in 2018 (78 percent) was not measurably different from the rate in 2003, when the collection of separate data on Asian students began.3

The immediate college enrollment rate for White students was higher than the rate for Black students in every year since 2000 except for 2010, when there was no measurable difference between the two rates. The immediate college enrollment rate for White students was higher than the rate for Hispanic students in every year from 2000 through 2010 but not measurably different every year between 2011 and 2017; however, the gap became significant again in 2018. The immediate college enrollment rate for Black students was higher than the rate for Hispanic students in 2000, but lower than the rate for Hispanic students in 2015 and 2016. In the rest of the years between 2000 and 2018, there was no measurable difference between the immediate college enrollment rates for Black and Hispanic students. The immediate college enrollment rate for Asian students was higher than the rates for Black and Hispanic students in every year since 2003. In addition, the immediate college enrollment rate for Asian students was higher than the rate for White students in every year since 2004, although the rates between these two groups were not measurably different in 2003.


1 The terms “high school completers” and “students” are used interchangeably throughout the indicator.
2 Due to some short-term data fluctuations associated with small sample sizes, estimates for the racial/ethnic groups were calculated based on 3-year moving averages, with the following exceptions: the percentages for 2018 were calculated based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2017 and 2018), and the 2003 percentage for Asians was based on a 2-year moving average (an average of 2003 and 2004).
3 Prior to 2003, data were collected for the combined race category of Asian/Pacific Islander.


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