Click for next page ( 12


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 11
PART II: WORKSHOP PAPERS

OCR for page 11
student financial aid. The paper then presents a brief overview of trends within the military and the labor market that may influence participation in postsecondary education. The final section of the paper reviews the limitations of current data sources for monitoring changes in postsecondary education, and suggests areas for improvement. This paper focuses primarily on trends within the past three decades, from 1970 to 2000' although shorter time Periods are used when data are not available for all 30 years. _ ma. . , .. a. . ~ ~ . . . . .. . . . . .. . .. .. l'~roughout, the paper relies on analyses of federal data, particularly data collected by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES data are a rich source of relatively objective, reliable data with which to describe postsecondary education. They do, however, have some limitations. First, the national portrait provided by these data necessarily masks differences that exist among states and regions of the country (e.g., enrollment trends among Hispanic students are likely to differ in the Southwest compared to the Midwest). These more detailed analyses were beyond the scope of this paper.) Also, for reasons discussed at the end of the paper, existing national data pnmanly describe "traditional" postsecondary institutions and the attainment of "traditional" postsecondary education credentials. Finally, because of both the reliance on national data and the broad scope of this paper, many topics could not be covered in depth, and many of the complex issues raised by these data received admittedly cursory treatment. It is hoped that these shortcomings are outweighed by the rigor and breadth of the infonnation presented. YOUNG ADULT POPULAR TRENDS Although about 40 percent of college students are over age 24, young adults aged ~ ~ to 22 are often considered the key constituency for postsecondary education. This population of young adults has fluctuated in size over the past three decades, increasing in the 1970s (as the baby boomers reached college age) and declining during the 1980s and early 1990s. The number of young adults increased from 23.7 million in 1970 to 30.2 million in ~ 98 I, then declined to a low of 24.8 million in ~ 996. Since ~ 996, the size ofthe IS- to 24-year-old cohort has increased to 26.0 million in 1999, and it is expected to continue to grow in size over the next five decades (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996, 20001. Because the federal government did not separate out Hispanics in its data collections until the mid-1970s, trend data on the racial/ethnic composition ofthe young- adult cohort are more limited. Over the roughly two decades Tom ~ 980 to ~ 999, the proportion of young adults who are White2 declined Tom 78 percent to 66 percent. At the same time, the proportion of Blacks increased slightly from 13 percent to 14 percent, the proportion of Hispanics increased from ~ percent to ~ 5 percent, and the proportion of other minorities (Asians and Native Americans) increased Tom 2 percent to 5 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996, 2000~. As will be seen later, these changes in the ~ The reader interested in state-level data is referred to publications produced by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and He National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (e.g., Measuring Up 2000~. 2 Throughout this paper, "White" refers to non-Hispanic Whites and "Black" refers to non-Hispanic Blacks. The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education: Report of a Workshop Chapter 1 12

OCR for page 11
1 Demographic and Attainment Trends in Postsecondary Education Lisa Godsons "More people are going to college!" is hardly an attention-grabbing headline, as it describes a long-standing trend in American educa- tion. This trend reflects continued increases in the skills required by the labor market and by society in general. Within this world of increasing skill demands, America's public and private postsecondary education institutions have firmly maintained their role and mission. In recent years, however, these postsecondary institutions have faced growing competition. In particular, the growth of alternative providers (such as for-profit institutions, "virtual" universities, and corporate universities) and alternative credentials (such as company-based certifi- cates) have called into question the efficacy of the traditional postsecondary institution and its ability to continue its dominant role as the (nearly) exclusive provider of postcompulsory education. Other chapters in this volume examine alternative postsecondary education providers and pedagogies and the ways in which tradi- tional postsecondary institutions are adapting to changing conditions. This chapter provides a context for the remainder of the volume, by providing a broad overview of trends within postsecondary education, as well as trends in the civilian labor market and the military that may affect the demand for postsecondary education. These three activities (postsecondary education, civilian work, and military service) constitute the three main career options available to those leaving high school. To put these options in perspective, among students who were eighth- ~Lisa Hudson is an education statistician at the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education. The views in this paper are those of the author. No official support by the U.S. Department of Education is intended or should be inferred. 13

OCR for page 11
graders in 1988 (and thus expected to graduate in 1992), 74 percent were working for pay or looking for work in 1994, and 53 percent were in a postsecondary education program. (About 35 percent were engaged in both activities.) Only 3 percent of these former students were in the military, and 7 percent were full-time homemakers (Berktold, Gels, and Kaufman, 1998~. STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER Although this chapter examines all three postsecondary school activities, the main emphasis is on postsecondary education. The chapter begins by examining characteristics of the young adult population. A number of aspects of postsecondary education are then examined, including trends in postsecondary enrollment levels and rates, the composition of students in postsecondary education, the number and types of degrees awarded, and student financial aid. The chapter then presents a brief overview of trends within the military and the labor market that may influence participation in postsecondary education. The final section reviews the limitations of current data sources for monitoring changes in postsecondary education and suggests areas for improvement. This chapter focuses primarily on trends within the past three decades, from 1970 to 2000, although shorter time periods are used when data are not available for all 30 years. Throughout, the chapter relies on analyses of federal data, particularly data collected by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES data are a rich source of relatively objective, reliable data with which to describe postsecondary education. They do, how- ever, have some limitations. First, the national portrait provided by these data necessarily masks differences that exist among states and regions of the country (e.g., enrollment trends among Hispanic students are likely to differ in the Southwest compared to the Midwest). These more detailed analyses were beyond the scope of this chapter. Also, for reasons discussed at the end, existing national data primarily describe "traditional" postsecondary institutions and the attainment of "tradi- tional" postsecondary education credentials. Finally, because of both the reliance on national data and the broad scope of this chapter, many topics could not be covered in depth, and many of the complex issues raised by these data received admittedly cursory treatment. YOUNG ADULT POPULATION TRENDS Although about 40 percent of college students are over age 24, young adults aged 18-22 are often considered the key constituency The reader interested in state-level data is referred to publications produced by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education (e.g., Measuring Up 2000~. 14 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
for postsecondary education. This population of young adults has fluctuated in size over the past three decades, increasing in the 1970s (as the baby boomers reached college age) and declining during the 1980s and early 1990s. The number of young adults increased from 23.7 million in 1970 to 30.2 million in 1981, then declined to a low of 24.8 million in 1996. Since 1996, the size of the 18-24-year-old cohort has increased to 26.0 million in 1999, and it is expected to continue to grow in size over the next five decades (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996, 2000~. Because the federal government did not separate out Hispanics in its data collections until the mid-1970s, trend data on the racial/ethnic composition of the young adult cohort are more limited. Over the roughly two decades from 1980 to 1999, the proportion of young adults who are White2 declined from 78 percent to 66 percent. At the same time, the proportion of Blacks increased slightly from 13 percent to 14 percent, the proportion of Hispanics increased from 8 percent to 15 percent, and the proportion of other minorities (Asians and Native Americans) increased from 2 percent to 5 percent (U.S. Census Bureau, 1996, 2000~. As will be seen later, these changes in the racial/ethnic composition of the young adult population are reflected in changes in the college student population over time. Looking at a slightly older group of adults, those aged 25-29, shows that the education level of adults has increased over time, as more individuals have completed high school, enrolled in college, and earned a college degree (Figure 1-1~. From 1971 to 1999, the percentage of adults aged 25-29 who completed high school increased from 78 percent to 88 percent; the percentage who had at least some college education increased from 44 percent to 66 percent; and the percentage who had at least a bachelor' s degree increased from 22 percent to 32 percent (NCES, 2000~. The proportion of these adults complet- ing at least some college has increased faster than the proportion completing high school, suggesting that the college enrollment rate has been increasing. As will be discussed later, this rate has indeed been rising. But before students can go to college, they must leave high school. High School Dropout and Completion Rates Completing high school increases a student's chances of attend- ing college, and completing high school through a regular diploma rather than an alternative route increases a student's chances of both going on to college (Snyder, 2001) and of completing college once he or she has started (Boesel, Alsalam, and Smith, 1998~. Thus, to maxi- mize their opportunity to enter and complete college, students should 2Throughout this paper, "White" refers to non-Hispanic Whites and "Black" refers to non-Hispanic Blacks. LISA HUDSON 15

OCR for page 11
100- 80 - 60 - 40 - 20 - O - _ _ _ ~ I, D 9' ~ ~ 9' ,6 <7 ~ ~ ,6 ,~ On, ~ Hi or A, 9,4 a. a D ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O O ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ o ~ , o ~ ~ ,~7 ~ ,~_ ~ High school I ~ Some college _ Bachelor's degree . . . ~ 1971 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 Year FIGURE 1-1 Percentage of 25-29 year olds who have completed at least high school, some college, or a bachelor's degree: 1971-1999. SOURCE: Data from National Center for Education Statistics (2000, pp. 154-156~. ideally graduate from high school with a regular high school diploma.3 While most high school students do this, many do not. For example, in 1999, 86 percent of 18-24 year olds who were not enrolled in high school had completed high school, 77 percent by graduating from high school and 9 percent through an alternative means such as the General Educational Development (GED) test. Thus, 23 percent of these young adults had failed to graduate from high school through the traditional path. These figures represent a decline in high school dropout rates and corresponding increase in completion rates since the 1970s. Eleven percent of 16-24 year olds were dropouts4 in 1999, down from over 14 percent in 1972 (Kaufman, Kwon, Klein, and Chapman, 2000). However, while dropout rates have declined since the early 1970s, they were fairly steady during the l990s; similarly, the high school completion rate has increased slightly since the early 1970s, but remained flat in the l990s. 3High school graduation maximizes other opportunities as well: Graduating from high school with a regular diploma is also related to lower levels of unemployment and higher wages, compared to not completing high school or completing through an alternative program (Boesel et al., 1998~. 4This measure of dropouts includes all young adults aged 16-24 who are not in school and have not earned a high school credential. This measure undercounts school dropout rates, since some of these young adults may have dropped out of high school but subsequently earned a credential. 16 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
These trends are occurring along with increased academic course taking among high school students (Levesque, Lauen, Teitelbaum, Alt, and Librera, 2000) and relatively steady or increasing academic achievement on national standardized tests (NCES, 2000; Smith, 1996~. Taken together, these findings suggest that school reform and accountability efforts in the past few decades may have improved learning outcomes for many high school students, although, at least in recent years, they seem to have had little effect on high school completion rates. It is not clear to what extent these trends have affected postsecondary education for example, it is not (yet) known whether these learning gains have reduced the need for remediation at the college level or to what extent they account for increasing enrollments at the postsecondary level. Immediate Transition to College and SAT Scores The most successful route to a college degree is to enter college immediately after high school graduation (NCES, 1997~. The percentage of high school completers who make this immediate transition remained relatively constant at about 50 percent from 1972 to 1980 but then increased to 66 percent by 1998 (NCES, 2000~. The number of students who took the SAT also increased from 1975 to 1999 (College Board, 2000c). This increase has occurred despite a declining cohort of 17 year olds, so that in 1975 the number of SAT-takers was 23 percent of the number of 17 year olds, while in 1999, SAT-takers were 31 percent of the 17-year-old population. Most of this increase occurred during the 1980s; by 1987, SAT-takers were 29 percent of the 17- year-old population (Snyder and Hoffman, 1991; College Board, 2000c; Snyder, 2001~. At the same time that more high school graduates are going directly to college and more students are taking the SAT, SAT scores have been holding steady or increasing (Snyder, 2001~. Average verbal SAT scores declined from 507 to 505 from 1986 to 1987 but have remained constant at 505 since then (up to 1999~. However, over this same time period, verbal SAT scores increased for each racial/ethnic group except Hispanics, whose scored dropped. These within-group trends suggest two reasons for the lack of an overall increase in verbal scores. The first reason is the drop in scores among Hispanics; the second reason is the increasing percentage of minorities attending college. Since all minority groups have lower verbal scores than Whites, this enrollment increase lowers the overall average score. Average math SAT scores increased from 501 to 514 from 1986 to 1999. Part of this increase may be due to increasing enrollments of Asian students, who have higher average math scores than other racial/ethnic groups, but it also reflects an increase in scores among each racial/ethnic group. These positive trends reflect a high school student body that appears to be, on average, better prepared to enter college. The next sections LISA HUDSON 17

OCR for page 11
1600Q 1200Q o o x E 800Q o 400Q All institutions f f f ~ ~ f f Public institutions _4-year institutions _2-year institutions Private institutions ~ ~ f f f ~ f O _ f ~ ~ ~ f ~ I ~ Am, f ~ , ~ I ~ take a closer look at college enrollment trends in general and the students who are enrolling in college. COLLEGE ENROLLMENTS The number of students enrolled in college has been increasing for at least the last three decades (Figure 1-2~. This growth has been fueled by increasing college enrollment rates among high-school graduates and among adults in general (Figure 1-3), rather than from increases in the number of high school graduates or college-age adults (defined as adults aged 18-24~. In fact, enrollment increases have occurred in spite of a declining cohort of college-age adults over most of the last two decades and relatively constant high school graduation rates. The increase in college enrollment was particularly steep during the 1970s, when community colleges were expanding. Interestingly, however, the college enrollment rate of 18-24 year olds was fairly constant over this period. During the 1970s, college enrollment growth appears to have resulted from enrollment rate increases among older adults (aged 25-34, see Figure 1-3) combined with a growing cohort of adults in this age category (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000~. Enrollment growth continued throughout the 1980s, fueled primarily by an increasing enrollment rate among college-age adults. Since 1992, however, enrollment appears to have leveled off, and the increase in the enrollment rate of college-age adults has slowed. The apparent leveling off of enrollment does not appear to be due to changes in the fly f ~ f ~ f i,, f OCR for page 11
~ Age 18-24 50 - 40 - 30- ~ 20 - 10 O - Age 25-34 Age 35+ - - - ,6 0 ~ ~ q$E ~ ~ ,0 9,, ~ O ~ ~ - ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ O ~ ~ ~ O ~ ~ ~ ~ l l l l l l l l l l l 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 Year FIGURE 1-3 Percentage of the population enrolled in postsecondary education, by age group: 1970-1998. SOURCES: Data from National Center for Education Statistics (2000, pp. 114-115) and U.S. Census Bureau, (2000, p. 167~. size of the college-age population. Although this cohort became smaller during the l990s, it shrank less during the l990s than in previous decades, when enrollment grew. Data on the wage premiums associ- ated with college education may provide one clue as to why growth in enrollment rates and levels may be slowing. College Wage Premiums College enrollment rates can be viewed as an indicator of labor market demand for a college education; when demand is high, the enrollment rate increases, and vice versa. Another indicator of labor market demand for a college education is the wage premium associ- ated with a college education. This measure indicates how much a college-educated worker earns compared to a worker who has only a high school education (Figures 1-4a and 1-4b). Comparing the trend in Figure 1-3 with the trends in Figures 1-4a and 1-4b shows that the enrollment rate among adults aged 18-24 began to increase a few years after the wage premium for a college education began to rise. Throughout most of the 1980s, both the relative returns to a college education and young adult enrollment rates increased, suggesting a strong labor market increase in the demand for a college education during that decade. In the l990s, however, the wage premium for a college education leveled off and college enroll- LISA HUDSON 19

OCR for page 11
a) ~ 1.00 - 0.50 - ~ Bachelor's degree or higher 0ff0009 Some college 2.00 - 1.50 - ~ Grades 9-11 JO _ - _ -_ _ _ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ^ 9 ~ ~ ~9 p 45, a o 9 ~ ~ o as To To 9,< no Den . _ ~ ~ ~ .... ~ __ _ -_ ~ .,~,, A in, 9,5> o ~ 9 9 ~ ~ ~ 9 ~ a g ~ ~ ~ ~ f ~ ~ ~ L ooo 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 Year FIGURE 1-4a Ratio of median annual earnings of male wage and salary workers aged 25-34 whose highest education level was grades 9-11, some college, or a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to those whose highest education was a high school diploma or GED: 1970-1998. SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics (2000, p. 144~. - - - Bachelor's degree or higher 9 ~ ~ Some college 2.00 - 1.50 o ._ a) ~ 1.00 . _ 0.50 0.00 _ ~ am, Grades9-11 in_ _ ,,.%, _ _ _ ~ _ ^_ ~ ~ _ 1 ~ 9 ~ is 9 ~ ~ # A ~9 ~ ~ 4'~ ~ o p of it, sap ~ ~ ~ ~ ,~ 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 Year FIGURE 1-4b Ratio of median annual earnings of female wage and salary workers aged 25-34 whose highest education level was grades 9-11, some college, or a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to those whose highest education was a high school diploma or GED: 1970-1998. SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics (2000, p. 144~. 20 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
ment rates fluctuated, suggesting that the labor market may have (at least temporarily) met its demand for college-educated workers. Of course, many factors in addition to the wage premium can affect college enrollment rates, and some factors (such as a growing high- skill economy) may drive both measures in the same direction. None- theless, these trends seem to suggest that labor market demand for a college education was particularly strong during the 1980s and may have leveled off in the late l990s. Enrollments Among Types of Postsecondary Institutions The overall increase in college enrollments in the last three decades has occurred within public institutions, private institutions, four-year institutions, and two-year institutions (see Figure 1-2~. During the 1970s, as the community college system grew, enrollment increases were larger at public rather than private institutions and at two-year rather than four-year institutions. As a result of these changes, from 1970 to 1980, public institution enrollments increased from 75 percent to 78 percent of all postsecondary enrollments, and four-year institution enrollments decreased from 73 percent to 63 percent of all enroll- ments. Since 1980, the share of enrollments at four-year institutions has dropped only slightly to 62 percent, and the share at public insti- tutions has not changed. Thus, the last decade has been characterized by fairly stable enrollment shares across public and private institutions and across four-year and two-year institutions. Table 1-1 provides a more detailed look at enrollments in the four major types of postsecondary institutions public four-year, public two-year, private four-year, and private two-year in 1981 and 1998. (This time period was selected because the criteria NCES uses to define the two-year sector have changed over time, such that data on two-year institutions before 1981 are not comparable with data in the TABLE 1-1 Fall Enrollments in Postseconclary Institutions and Distribution of Enrollments among Institutions, by Type of Institution: ~ 98 ~ and ~ 998 1981 1998 Type of institution Enrollment % Distribution Enrollment % Distribution Public 4-year 5,166,324 41.8 5,903,837 40.6 Public 2-year 4,480,708 36.2 5,272,347 36.2 Private 4-year 2,489,137 20.1 3,128,908 21.5 Private 2-year 235,503 1.9 244,097 1.7 All institutions 12,371,672 100.0 14,549,189 100.0 SOURCE: Snyder (2001, p. 203~. NOTE: The 1998 data are for degree-granting institutions. Data in 1981 were not available for degree-granting institutions, so data in this year represent two-year and four-year institutions of higher education. In any given year, enrollment estimates for these two types of institutions differ by about 1 percent. LISA HUDSON 21

OCR for page 11
Expanding the program to include coverage of the costs of licensing or certification; Expanding the program to cover the costs of "high-tech/short- term" programs offered by business, such as Novell Network Engineer certification courses; and Increasing the monthly stipend to cover the average costs of tuition and expenses at public postsecondary institutions and indexing the stipend to changes in education costs. It is worth noting that these proposed changes suggest a strong interest in expanding the MGIB program to include coverage of education and training programs that are often provided by agencies or institu- tions other than the colleges or universities. THE LABOR FORCE Like the military, the civilian labor force serves as an alternative pursuit to college enrollment for students leaving high school. As is also true of the military, the labor market often provides incentives for college study by requiring initial or further skill development that can be obtained through postsecondary education (e.g., continuing education requirements for doctors), by offering raises or promotions for those who obtain further education, and through the provision of employer financial support for workers who go to college. Labor Force Composition and Trends In 1999, about 139.4 million adults aged 16 and older were in the U.S. civilian labor force. In comparison, 68.4 million adults were out of the labor force (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000~. Among adults aged 16 and older, this represents a labor force participation rate of 67 per- cent. Among those in the prime working years, aged 25-64, the labor force participation rate is 80 percent. The labor force participation rate is related to education level, as those with higher levels of education participate at higher rates than those with lower levels of education. For example, in 1999, 63 percent of adults aged 25-64 with no high school diploma participated in the labor force, as did 78 percent of those with only a high school diploma, 83 percent of those with only some college, and 88 percent of college graduates (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000~. Over the decades, the labor force participation rate has been rising, primarily because of women's increased participation. From 1950 (the earliest year of published data) to 2000, women's participation rate has increased while men's participation rate has decreased. Since 1965, women's participation rate has increased faster than the rate for men has decreased, resulting in a steady increase in the rate of overall labor force participation, from 59 percent in 1965 to 67 percent in 48 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
2000.~6 The declining participation rate for men appears to be due to changing policies concerning social security, disability benefits, and pension benefits, which have made it easier for men, particularly older men, to leave the labor market (Fullerton, 1999~. The Labor Force in Postsecondary Education Some adults who are in the labor force are also enrolled in postsecondary education, either because they are students who need to work to pay for their schooling or because they are workers who have decided to return to school. In 1995-1996, about 13.3 million of the 19.5 million students who were enrolled in postsecondary educa- tion (68 percent) were also in the labor force. This suggests that in 1995 about 10 percent of the total labor force was enrolled in college. About 3.9 million of these working students (20 percent of all students, and 3 percent of the labor force) defined themselves primarily as employees who were going to school ("student employees"), a group that is in many ways distinct from other students. Among undergraduates, student employees tend to be concen- trated in public two-year institutions, suggesting that workers seeking further education and training are particularly likely to attend public two-year institutions (which are primarily community colleges). In 1995-1996, 67 percent of undergraduate student employees were enrolled in public two-year institutions, 17 percent in public four-year institutions, 5 percent in private for-profit institutions, and most of the remaining 11 percent in private four-year institutions (Lee and Clery, 1999~. The Demand for Skills Historically, skill demands in the labor market have increased over time, and the recent past is no exception. For example, a 1994 national survey of employers found that 57 percent reported that skill demands were increasing for jobs in their companies while only 2 percent reported a decline in skill demands (National Center on the Educa- tional Quality of the Workforce, 1995~. Nonetheless, the majority of all current labor market jobs do not require education beyond the high school level. In 1998, 72 percent of all occupations required only work experience or on-thejob training. In comparison, 7 percent of all occupations required an associate degree or vocational training, and 22 percent required a bachelor's degree or higher (BLS, 2000~. Because these requirements are based primarily on the education composition of labor market participants, they closely match the edu- cation level of the population. In 1998, 7 percent of adults age 25 or 16From 1965 to 2000, women's participation rate rose from 35 percept to 60per- cent, while men's participation rate dropped from 81 percent to 75 percent. (These labor force participation data are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site http://stats.bls.gov.) LISA HUDSON 49

OCR for page 11
older had an associate degree, and 24 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher (Snyder, 2000~. Occupational projections suggest that the largest number of new jobs in the coming decade will be in occupations that require only short-term on-thejob training, mainly because that is the education requirement for most of today's existing jobs (BLS, 2000~. Job growth, however, is more concentrated in jobs that require postsecondary edu- cation. Projections of employment growth from 1998 to 2008 show that 57 percent of new jobs will be in occupations that do not require postsecondary education, 11 percent will be in occupations that require an associate degree or vocational training, and 33 percent will be in occupations that require a bachelor's degree or higher (BLS, 2000~. The faster-than-average growth among jobs that require postsecondary education is expected to result mainly from increases in health and computer-related occupations. For example, among occupations at the associate degree/vocational training level, the fastest-growing occupations are registered nurses, computer support specialists, and licensed practical nurses. At the bachelor's degree level, the fastest-growing occupa- tions are computer systems analysts, general managers/executives, and computer engineers. These projections reflect where growth has occurred in the recent past and, as seen above, are largely consistent with recent trends in degree fields of study, where growth has been most pronounced in business, technical, and health fields. Skill demands in the labor market appear to be increasing both because of the changing nature of the labor market as a whole (i.e., the shift to higher skill jobs) and because the skills required for specific jobs are also increasing. This increase in skill demands is reflected in increasing proportions of workers Participating in work-related educa- tion activities (including college enrollment). particularly notable among workers in the trades occupations and in sales and service occupations, as opposed to professional occupations (Creighton and Hudson, 2002~. 1 1 0 .. .. These increases are Employer Financial Support Employers often provide support for the further education of their employees, including participation in postsecondary education. For example, in a 1995 survey of business enterprises with at least 50 employees, the BLS found that 61 percent of these employers offered tuition reimbursement programs in 1994 (Frazis, Gittleman, Horrigan, and Joyce, 1997~. This training practice was second only to the financing of off-site training (including conference attendance) among the edu- cation and training benefits provided by employers. Another Perspective on the role of emolovers in supporting 1 1 1 ~ 1 1 "7 . . . ~ ~ . . . mu. . postsecondary education comes from surveys of college students. lhls perspective shows that while many employers offer tuition assistance, relatively few college students receive it. Using the NCES National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Lee and Clery (1999) found that 50 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
6 percent of all undergraduates in 1995-1996 (about 700,000 under- graduates) received financial aid from their employers. However, among undergraduates who consider themselves to be primarily employees who are going to school, a much higher percentage 25 percent- received employer aid. Employer financial aid is also more common among graduate students than among undergraduates; among graduate students who considered themselves primarily employees, 42 percent received employer aid. Lee and Clery (1999) also found that students in some fields of study were more likely than those in others to receive employer aid. At the undergraduate level, over one-third of students enrolled in business, engineering, and computer/information science programs received employer aid, compared to one-quarter of those in health programs and no more than one-fifth of those in other program areas. At the graduate level, students in business programs were more likely to receive emolover aid than were students in all other Program areas (14 percent versus no more than ~ percent). lnese ilncllngs suggest that recent growth in business and computer-related degrees may be partially the result of employer support for workers to obtain these degrees. Yet another perspective on employer support for postsecondary education comes from surveys of adults. Lee and Clery (1999) also used NCES' Adult Education Survey to examine the extent to which adults received employer support for their participation in "credential programs." Because of ambiguity in the definition of this term, credential programs may include vocational training programs and noncredit courses taken to receive continuing education requirements or other formal credentials, in addition to for-credit college enrollments. Among adults in these programs, 24 percent received employer financial support, and 33 percent received some other form of employer support (such as time off from work). About half of adults in credential programs (53 percent) received one or the other type of employer assistance. The likelihood of receiving employer financial aid for a creden- tial program varied depending on one's occupation, with workers in occupations that have higher skill demands (and workers with higher incomes) being more likely to receive employer financial support than those in occupations with lower skill demands (and lower incomes). For example, in 1995, one-half of executives, administrators, and managers who enrolled in credential programs received financial assistance from their employers. This figure compares to 10 percent of those employed in marketing and sales and 4 percent of those who were handlers, cleaners, helpers, or laborers (Lee and Clery, 1999~. These findings suggest that employer support for college education may increase in the future, as the labor market (slowly) shifts to the management and technical jobs that employers most often support. The findings summarized above demonstrate one important difference between federal student financial aid and employer aid. While the federal government provides financial support for postsecondary education LISA HUDSON 51

OCR for page 11
for the benefit of society, employers provide this support primarily for the benefit of their company. This goal means that employers tend to financially support those workers who are most likely to increase company productivity or profitability as a result of their education- i.e., managers, skilled technical workers, and other high-skill, high- demand workers who cannot be easily hired with the requisite skills or who cannot continue to function effectively without further educa- tion. Thus, while employer aid can and does support postsecondary education, it tends to do so in a way that further exacerbates differ- ences between the educational "haves" and "have note." One reason so many employers provide tuition assistance is that federal policy provides incentives to employers to do so through "Sec- tion 127" benefits. This legislation allows employers to provide their employees (as of 2000) up to $5,250 tax-free to pay for undergraduate tuition. Employers have the additional incentive of not having to pay their share of the FICA contribution on this funding (i.e., the aid does not count as earnings). Current Section 127 legislation had been scheduled to expire in December 2001, but the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001 recently made these benefits permanent, which means that this policy will be in place for at least the next 10 years (when the new Act expires). The 2001 Act also extended these benefits to cover graduate school tuition. Both the lon.~-term provision of this benefit _ _ ~ 1 , , , 1 , 1 1 r ,1 1 and its extension to graduate school may further encourage employer support for postsecondary education, and thus may further encourage the participation in postsecondary education of working adults. Postsecondary Institutions as a Provider of Worker Training In addition to postsecondary education, workers often receive other types of education and training, much of it provided by their employer. The 1995 BLS survey of employers found that 93 percent of enter- prises that have at least 50 employees provided some type of formal training for their workers and that 70 percent of workers in these enterprises received formal employer-provided training over a one- year period (Frazis et al., 1997~. Postsecondary institutions are a source for some of this employer-provided training but not the bulk of it. According to the BLS survey, only 17 percent of employers used postsecondary institutions as a training source for employer-provided training (BLS, 1996~. Another perspective on the role of postsecondary education as a provider of adult education and training comes from the 1995 NCES Adult Education Survey. This survey shows that among all adults who took courses that were not part of a credential program, postsecondary institutions were the instructional provider for 31 percent of these adult learners, second only to business and industry (36 percent) (Hudson, 1999~. 52 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
The Adult Education Survey also found that, although half of adults enrolled in postsecondary institutions were taking courses leading to a credential, half were not. This implies that adults are as likely to use postsecondary institutions for noncredential purposes as for credential purposes. This finding is inconsistent with NCES student surveys showing that most students are enrolled in degree programs.~7 This inconsistency suggests that a significant amount of continuing educa- tion and other noncredit course taking is occurring within postsecondary institutions that is not captured by NCES' regular student surveys. This limitation, in turn, implies that the student enrollment data dis- cussed earlier in this chapter show how postsecondary institutions are used by only about half of those who receive instruction from these institutions. One type of college course taking that is missing from NCES surveys is course taking designed to lead to an industry or company credential only. Not much is yet known about these activities. Adelman (2000) has recently examined credentialing in the information tech- nology (IT) industry, the largest sector of the industry credentialing movement. His data show that while IT credentials were virtually unheard of a decade ago, as of January 2000, 1.7 million credentials had been awarded by the IT industry. It would appear that the credentialing "movement" is well underway in the IT industry. A less advanced, but broader effort to encourage industry credentialing is being advanced by the National Skill Standards Board (NSSB), an organization initiated by the National Skill Standards Act of 1994. The NSSB is a coalition of leaders from business, labor, employee, education, and community organizations who are working to build "a voluntary national system of skill standards, assessments, and certification systems" to enhance workforce development. The NSSB proposes to develop skill standards in 15 industry sectors. At present, standards have been developed in the manufacturing and the sales and service industries; standards are under development in the education and training and the hospitality and tourism industries. It is not yet clear how the work of the NSSB will link to postsecondary education, but the general goal seems to be to develop a credentialing system that is industry-based, portable, and ultimately international in scope much like the existing IT credentialing system. These initiatives raise questions about the trade-off between a broad, formal education and a more narrow credentialing of skills. Most educators would argue that the acquisition of narrow skills instead of a broad education is a bad choice for individuals, reducing their labor market flexibility (as well as their general intellectual foundation). But as occupations become increasingly specialized and technical, the credentialing of skills instead of or in addition to general educa- |7For example, the 1995-1996 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study found that only 3 percent of beginning postsecondary students were not enrolled in a degree or certificate program (Kojaku and Nunez, 1998~. LISA HUDSON 53

OCR for page 11
tional credentialing is likely to grow in popularity. It remains to be seen what role postsecondary institutions should and will play in this credentialing movement. SUMMARY From the national data, postsecondary education appears to be doing quite well. Enrollment levels, enrollment rates, and degree comple- tions have been increasing, in decades when the size of the college- age cohort was shrinking, costs were rising, and student aid was uneven at best. Further, since one of the key predictors of college attendance is whether one's parents went to college (see, e.g., Kane, 1994), postsecondary education is also reinforced through a self-perpetuating process: The more adults there are who have a college education, the more children there will be in the next generation who also seek a college education. In turn, the more highly educated workers there are in society, the more high-skill jobs the economy can support, further increasing education and skill demands. Given these trends, plus projections of a growing cohort of college-age adults in the next few decades. postsecondary education would seem to be in a good position overall. But the national data also hint at some potential problems. Increasing college costs may be limiting access for some students, student loan programs may lead to undesirable debt burdens, and business and industry appear to be pushing for credentialing processes that could operate independently of the postsecondary education system. Surveys of employers and adults also show that the majority of adult course taking occurs outside of postsecondary education. Taken together, these findings suggest that the combination of a cost-restricted postsecondary education system on the supply side and a growing interest in further education on the demand side may be setting the stage for the growth of alternative education systems and providers. As the other chapters in this volume demonstrate, postsecondary institutions are increasingly adopting new missions, new education programs, and new instructional delivery strategies, while new pro- viders (e.g., virtual universities, corporate universities, industry credentialing agencies) are offering a wider range of alternative learning routes. Unfortunately, these alternative strategies and systems are not well covered in national data systems, so they do not appear in the portrait of postsecondary education created by these data. It is reasonable to ask why these alternative systems are so diffi- cult to assess within a national data collection. The basic problem is that alternative and emerging systems often do not meet the criteria necessary for cost-effective collection of systematic, reliable data. First, a national data collection depends on a clear and consistent definition of all the entities from which one intends to draw a survey sample. Thus, before one can survey postsecondary institutions, one must opera- tionally define them and then be able to identify all institutions that meet the definition. This task becomes more difficult when new institutions 54 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
open and close at a rapid rate or when institutions or systems emerge that do not fit existing definitions. Data collections also rely on the willingness of survey participants to share information and on their capacity to provide information. Both of these respondent character- istics are often compromised in new and emerging systems. For-profit postsecondary education institutions, for example, are sometimes unwilling to respond to surveys for fear that their competitors will learn too much about them. Finally, new alternatives are by definition different from the norm, so that existing survey instruments and procedures may simply be unable to capture or describe them. In short, it is always difficult for national surveys to accurately capture an emerging system or a system in flux. So national data collections are probably not the best source for finding out what is happening "at the margins." This is not to say that the current data collection system for postsecondary education cannot or should not be improved. There are a number of ways in which the current system could be adapted to better capture the full breadth of educa- tion alternatives facing adults. Three proposals are suggested here. First, until better methods are devised for capturing information directly from alternative providers, the best source of information on these providers is the adults who enroll in education programs. The NCES Adult Education Survey is our best source of information on adults, but its sample size is typically too small to allow analysis of participation in activities that may be relatively new and small scale. A larger sample of adults is needed. Second, it would be useful to regularly survey employers about existing policies and practices that may influence workers' participation in traditional postseconda~y education and other forms of learning. Previous employer surveys have been conducted (but discontinued) by the Department of Labor and the Department of Education; perhaps a joint Labor-Education survey effort should be attempted. ~ '' Nay, more focused surveys, such as the NCbb surveys on distance education, He needed to monitor emerging delivery systems that cannot be captured in existing surveys. Potential topics for these focused surveys include customized training, continuing education, the use of new technologies in traditional classrooms, and institutions' role in industry certification. To end on a positive note, existing federal data sources provide a wealth of information about the traditional postsecondary education system, only a small part of which could be included in this chapter. We know much more about postsecondary education today than we ever have in the past and even with a moving target our knowl- edge is sure to improve in the future. REFERENCES Adelman, C. (2000). A parallel universe. Change, 32(3), May/June, 20-29. Berkner, L. (1998). Student financing of undergraduate education: 1995-96 (NCES 98-076). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. LISA HUDSON 55

OCR for page 11
Berkner, L. (2000~. Trends in undergraduate borrowing: Federal student loans in 1989-90, 1992-93, and 1995-96 (NCES 2000- 151). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Berktold, J., Gels, S., and Kaufman, P. (1998~. Subsequent educational attainment of high school dropouts (NCES 98-085~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Boesel, D., Alsalam, N., and Smith, T.M. (1998~. Educational and labor market performance of GED recipients. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Edu- cation, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, National Library of Education. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1996~. BLS reports on the amount offormal and informal training received by employees. BLS news release, December 16, 1996. Available: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/sept.nws.htm [October 25, 2001]. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2000~. Charting the projections: 1998-2008. Occupa- tional Outlook Quarterly, 43~4) Winter 1999-2000, 8-38. Choy, S.P., and Gels, S. (1997~. Early labor force experiences and debt burden (NCES 91-286~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. College Board. (2000a). Trends in student aid. New York: College Entrance Exami- nation Board. College Board. (2000b). Trends in college pricing. New York: College Entrance Examination Board. College Board. (2000c). 1996-2000 profiles of college-bound seniors, SAT national profile reports. Available: http ://www.collegeboard.org/sat/cbsenior/yr 1997/ nat/cb s 1997.html; http :llwww. collegeboard. org/s at/cb senior/yr 199 81natl cb s 1998.html; http :llwww. collegeboard. org/s at/cb senior/yr 1999/NAT/ cbs l 999.html; http://www.collegeboard.org/sat/cbsenior/yr2000/nat/cbs2000.html. [December 10, 2001] Creighton, S., and Hudson, L. (2002~. Participation trends and patterns in adult education: 1991 to 1999 (NCES 2002-119~. Washington, DC: U.S. Depart- ment of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Frazis, H., Gittleman, M., Horrigan, M., and Joyce, M. (1997~. Formal and informal training: Evidence from a matched employee-employer survey. Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Economic Growth, 9, 47-82. Frazis, H., Gittleman, M., Horrigan, M., and Joyce, M. (1998~. Results from the 1995 survey of employer-provided training. Monthly Labor Review, 121~6), 3-13. Fullerton, H.N., Jr. (1999~. Labor force participation: 75 years of change, 1950-98 and 1998-2025. Monthly Labor Review, 122~12), 3-12. Guzman, B. (2001~. Census 2000 brief: The Hispanic population. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. Horn, L.J., and Berktold, J. (1998~. Profile of undergraduates in U.S. postsecondary education institutions: 1995-96 (NCES 98-084~. Washington, DC: U.S. Depart- ment of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Hudson, L. (1999~. Adult participation in lifelong learning: An examination of noncredential coursetaking. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Institutional Research, Seattle, WA, May. Kane, T.J. (1994~. College entry by blacks since 1970: The role of college costs, family background, and the returns to education. Journal of Political Economy, 102~5), 878-911. Kane, T.J. (1995~. Rising public college tuition and college entry: How well do public subsidies promote access to college? NBER Working Paper No. 5164, July. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. Kaufman, P., Kwon, J.Y., Klein, S., and Chapman, C.D. (2000~. Dropout rates in the United States: 1999 (NCES 2001-022~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 56 DEMOGRAPHIC AND ATTAINMENT TRENDS IN POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION

OCR for page 11
Kojaku, L.K., and Nunez, A. (1998~. Descriptive summary of 1995-96 beginning postsecondary students (NCES 1999-030~. Washington, DC: U.S. Depart- ment of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Lee, J.B., and Clery, S.B. (1999~. Employer aid for postsecondary education (NCES 1999-181~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Levesque, K., Lauen, D., Teitelbaum, P., Alt, M., and Librera, S. (2000~. Vocational education in the United States: Toward the year 2000 (NCES 2000-029~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Edu- cation Statistics. Lewis, L., Snow, K., Farris, E., and Levin, D. (1999~. Distance education at postsecondary education institutions: 1997-98 (NCES 2000-013~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. McPherson, M.S., and Schapiro, M.O. (1998~. The student aid game. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Mortenson, T.G. (1999~. Where are the boys? The growing gender gap in higher education. The College Board Review, 188, August, 8-17. National Center for Education Statistics. (1997~. Indicator of the month, subbaccalaureate persistence and attainment. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. (1999~. The condition of education 1999 (NCES 1999-022~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. (2000~. The condition of education 2000 (NCES 2000-062~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. (n.d.~. Measuring up 2000: The state-by-state report card for higher education. San Jose, CA: Author. National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce. (1995~. First findings from the EQW national employer survey. Philadelphia: University of Penn- sylvania. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy). (2000a). Population representation in the military services: Fiscal year 1999. Arlington, VA: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy). (2000b). Biennial report to Congress on the Montgomery GI Bill education benefits program. Arlington, VA: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Manpower Data Center. Smith, T.M. (1996~. The condition of education 1996 (NCES 96-304~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Snyder, T.D. (2000~. Digest of education statistics 1999 (NCES 2000-031~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Snyder, T.D. (2001~. Digest of education statistics 2000 (NCES 2001-034~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Snyder, T.D. and Hoffman, C.M. (1991~. Digest of education statistics 1991 (NCES 91-697~. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. USA Today (2001~. Debt smothers young Americans, Feb. 13, pp. 1-2. U.S. Census Bureau. (1992~. Statistical abstract of the United States: 1992. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Census Bureau. (1996~. Statistical abstract of the United States: 1996. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Census Bureau. (2000~. Statistical abstract of the United States: 2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. LISA HUDSON 57

OCR for page 11
U.S. Census Bureau (2000~. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (19971. Indicator of the Month, Subbaccalaureate Persistence and Attainment. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Pnuting Office. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (1999 ). Me Condition of Education 1999 (NCES 1999-022~. Washington, DC: Author. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2000~. We Condition' of Education 2000 (NCES 2000-062~. Washington, DC: Author. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (20001. Occupational Outiook Quarterly, Winter 1999-2000, 8-38. . The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education: Report of a Workshop Chapter 1 s8