Federal surveys tracking 2002's high school sophomores found that 10 years later, a third of the students had earned a bachelor's degree or higher, and 19 percent had some other undergraduate-level credential. Here is a graphical explanation of some of the results, released by the National Center for Education Statistics this month.
Hispanic and African-American students were more likely to stop at a high school degree, and to have attended some college but not completed a degree. Asians and whites were more likely to attain a bachelor's degree or higher.
The most common jobs held by young people who didn't graduate from high school were positions in food preparation and service. Forty percent of young people with only a high school degree and 45 percent of high school dropouts reported having lost a job since January 2006, compared with 19 percent of bachelor's degree holders.
Twentysomethings with less than a bachelor's degree were more tied to their hometowns. Bachelor's degree holders were roughly as likely to live close to home as they were to move more than 100 miles away—suggesting that they were more likely or able to move for a new job.
Twenty-six-year-olds with less education were also more likely to be supporting children. While more than two-thirds of those without a high school diploma already had one or more children, the vast majority of bachelor's degree holders had yet to start a family.
As sophomores, the majority of the class of 2004 accurately predicted how much education they would have attained by age 26. Of students who planned to earn a bachelor's degree, only 34 percent did. Thirty-three percent left college without completing a degree, 20 percent earned either an associate's degree or a certificate, and 10 percent didn't advance past high school.