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Record Share of Young Adults Earn College Degrees



By Catherine Groux
Posted November 08, 2012 10:00 AM

A new report shows that more young adults than ever are earning college degrees.
A new report shows that more young adults than ever are earning college degrees.
In 2012, for the first time in history, one-third of the nation's 25- to 29-year-olds completed at least a bachelor's degree, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This is a small, but significant jump from only 12 years ago, when 29% of young Americans said they earned a bachelor's degree.

As young Americans set college completion records, they are also reaching new heights on other academic fronts. For the first time ever, the share of young adults who finished high school hit 90%, while the percentage who completed at least some college rose to a record 63%.

The survey attributed part of this growth to the recession that plagued the American economy between 2007 and 2009. During this challenging economic time, many young people viewed higher education as the best path to professional success and financial stability.

Additionally, past Pew surveys reveal that Americans' overall attitude toward college has been changing. In 1978, the public was evenly divided on whether a college education was necessary to succeed. By 2009, this changed significantly, as 73% of adults said that in order to get ahead in life, individuals must earn a college degree. 

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