Today, we expect college to follow high school like we expect “Not much” to follow “What’s up?” Yet, for most of American history, people haven’t been vying for B.A. or B.S. degrees. While not all Americans attend post-secondary schools, college attendance has increased tremendously over the last two generations. In addition, more women are earning degrees than men.
Percentage of the population 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 1940: 4.6
Percentage of high school grads who went to college (two- or four-year) immediately after high school in 1972: 49
Percentage of high school grads who went to college (two- or four-year) immediately after high school in 2005: 69
Percentage of undergraduates in 1970 who were female: 42
Percentage of undergraduates in 2000 who were female: 56