The Racial Gap in College Enrollments of Recent High School Graduates

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau offers a look at the college enrollment status of 2019 high school graduates. That year there were 3,185,000 students who graduated from high school. Slightly more than two-thirds of these students were enrolled in some type of postsecondary education in October 2019.

In 2019, there were 438,000 Black students who graduated from high school. Of these, 222,000, or 50.7 percent were enrolled in postsecondary education in October 2019. Some 82,000 Black students who earned their high school diploma in 2019 enrolled in community college and 140,000 enrolled in four-year colleges and universities. So nearly 32 percent of Black high schools graduate that year had enrolled in four-year colleges and universities by the ensuing fall.

For non-Hispanic White Americans, there were 1,750,000 high school graduates in 2019. Nearly 20 percent had enrolled in community college by October of that year and 47.9 percent had enrolled in four-year colleges and universities.

There were 234,000 Black women who graduated from high school in 2019. Nearly 16 percent of them enrolled in community colleges by October 2019 and 39.7 percent had enrolled in four-year postsecondary institutions. For Black male high school graduates in 2019, 17.2 percent had enrolled in community colleges by October 2019 and 23.6 percent had enrolled in four-year institutions.

For 2019 high school graduates, 15.8 percent of Blacks were neither enrolled in school nor employed in October 2019. For White high school graduates, the figure was 10.4 percent.

Note: All of this data is from the pre-pandemic period. It will be important to see if the racial gap in college enrollments will expand for 2020 graduates who completed high school after the pandemic began.

 


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