As the Percentage of Americans with Degrees Rise, So Does Competition

Here is an interesting fact for you: although 52.7% Americans have a college education, only 27.2% have actually received a degree. Sure, there is considerable school drop outs, but another factor is alternative education offering a diploma or certificate program.  These programs not only take less time to complete, but are also field specific when compared to acquiring a degree, which is great for people looking to jump into the workforce fast.

When compared to other countries, the figures above seem quite insignificant, as the percentage of students going in for higher education gets even more narrow. The survey quotes only 8.9% Americans are graduating with a Master Degree. Unbelievably, Doctorate Degree holders, otherwise known as PhD, contribute to a mere 3%.

Although the figures mentioned appear quite low, there has been a definite increase in the last several years. For instance, in the 1940’s, only 5% of Americans earned a College or University Degree, and as of 2013, women outrank men in the number of degrees acquired.

In 2012, the percentages of Americans who have graduated with a College Diploma is drastically different when compared by race, noting a gap in education:

  • 28% of African Americans have a College Degree.
  • 23% of Native Americans Graduated from College.
  • 20% of Latinos have completed higher education.
  • 44% of White Americans hold a College or University Diploma.
  • 59% of Asians obtained a Degree from an Institution.

Just as alarming as the racial statistics for College Degrees, when divided into income class, the gap of degree holders is even more pronounced:

  • High-Income Students – 77% Graduation Rate
  • Middle-Income Students – 52% Degree Rate
  • Low-Income Students – 30% Higher Education Degree
  • Poor, Income-Assisted Students – 12% are Degree Holders

It has been observed that the higher and middle class in America stand a better opportunity to obtain a college degree.  Even geographical location plays a role, as the states which lie on the east coast of the country have a greater turnout of College and University Graduates.

So, what does all this mean, exactly?

Realizing the educational acquisitions, income and race are correlated, the U.S. government is arranging for many new educational programs. This study, which relied on U.S. Census and other data sources, was released by scholars at the University of Pennsylvania, Council for Opportunity in Education, and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. These numbers indicate the lack of college-educated workers that will be needed to fill the bulk of the country’s new jobs—two-thirds of which will require some college background by 2020. and the dearth of college degrees held by lower-income workers. With well paying jobs in manufacturing and skilled trades largely a relic of the nation’s booming industrial past, the middle class pathways for workers with just a high school diploma, or those holding a certificate of general education, are few and far between. The basic arithmetic points to a possible future in which the poor are unable to take full part in the nation’s economy, creating great social and economic strain.

To put it in a nutshell, many factors influence the turnout of degree holders like sex, race, location and social status.  The solution is figuring out how to bridge the gap to include all Americans, and ensure everyone has equal opportunity in an Education-for-Profit system of growing tuition costs and shrinking job opportunities.


This article discusses the competition of college degrees in the USA.

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