The slow upturn in the job market may be causing fewer high school grads to pursue a college degree. Only 66 percent of students who graduated from high school in 2013 enrolled in college for the fall of 2014, reports FiveThirtyEight. That’s the lowest percentage since 2006, and the 16-24 year-old age bracket saw its biggest drop in college enrollment in decades. The article continues:
The drop in college attendance among recent high school graduates appears concentrated among groups most likely to be deciding between going to school and joining the labor force: Part-time and community college enrollments saw the sharpest decline. Meanwhile, the enrollment rate increased for four-year colleges, where costs have been rising the fastest. […]
As FiveThirtyEight notes, this isn’t all good news: college graduates still out-earn high school grads, and over the course of a lifetime, can make around half a million dollars more. It’s likely that some students may be hurting their future earnings by foregoing college. On the other hand hand, it’s good news that the job market is finally providing enough jobs for high school graduates that they feel they have other options besides spending heavily on a degree.In the long term, we should be looking for ways to provide many of the benefits of a college degree without forcing them to take on debt and spend years of their life out of the workforce. But in the near term, perhaps this news is also another sign that the higher education bubble is slowly losing air. We’ve already seen that enrollment is declining at many schools due to their high costs. If still more students are choosing work over college, it will force colleges to become even more competitive to attract students. If more competition leads to lower prices, this would be a major boon.