Coming Feb. 16: College Completion
These young people, who pursue but do not complete their higher education, are the new forgotten half
In 1988, the William T. Grant Foundation issued a report on what it termed “The Forgotten Half,” the high school graduates who never went on to college. The report found that while the nation was investing in young people who went to college, there was little or no support for non–college-bound youth. Unprepared for the job market and saddled with diminished economic prospects, these young people —nearly half of the nation’s 16–24 year olds — had fallen far behind their peers who attended college. Now, more than 25 years later, foundation has issued a follow-up report and found a new reality: Today, as many as 86 percent of on-time high school graduates now continue their education. Access not the threat it once was. But the era of “college for all” has yielded a new set of challenges and obstacles for young people and the institutions that serve them, particularly community colleges. The report found that while 37 percent of on-time high school graduates enroll in community colleges and intend ultimately to pursue bachelor’s degrees, nearly half (46 percent) drop out within eight years, earning no degree and incurring significant expenses. These young people, who pursue but do not complete their higher education, are the new forgotten half, often leaving college with nothing more to show than high debt, and with no better job prospects than someone who never went to college at all. In light of President Obama’s recent college initiative the report’s recommendations for improving completion — along with those contained in a recent Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report in college transfers — are particularly timely.