The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just issued a press release
AMERICA’S YOUNG ADULTS AT 23: SCHOOL ENROLLMENT, TRAINING, AND
EMPLOYMENT TRANSITIONS BETWEEN AGES 22 AND 23
At age 23, there is a clear gender gap in educational attainment. While nearly 1 in 4 women had earned a
bachelor’s degree by the October when they were age 23, only 1 in 7 men had done so, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today. Additionally, the same percentage of men and women, 16 percent,
were enrolled in college at age 23, so it is unlikely the gap in educational attainment will close in the
next few years.
These findings are from the first 12 annual rounds of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997,
which is a nationally representative survey of about 9,000 young men and women who were born during
the years 1980 to 1984. These respondents were ages 12 to 17 when first interviewed in 1997 and ages
23 to 29 when interviewed for the 12th time in the 2008-09 survey round. The survey provides
information on work and nonwork experiences, training, schooling, income, assets, and other
characteristics. The information provided by respondents is representative of all men and women born in
the early 1980s and living in the United States when the survey began in 1997.
This release examines the school enrollment and employment experiences of these individuals when
they were ages 22 and 23, with a focus on their characteristics during October. Respondents were age 22
in October during the years 2002 to 2007 and age 23 in October from 2003 to 2008. Highlights from the
longitudinal survey include:
During the October when they were 23 years old, 23 percent of women had earned a bachelor’s
degree, compared with 14 percent of men. (See table 1.)
Among those who were enrolled in college when they were 22 years old, almost a third had
earned a bachelor’s degree by age 23, while 23 percent were no longer enrolled in college. Non-
Hispanic blacks and Hispanics or Latinos were less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have
earned a bachelor’s degree between ages 22 and 23. (See table 2.)
Eight percent of male high school graduates who had never enrolled in college were in the
Armed Forces during the October when they were age 23, as were 6 percent of the 23-year-old
men who had attended college but had not earned a bachelor’s degree and were no longer
enrolled. Two percent of 23-year-old men with a bachelor’s degree were serving in the Armed
Forces. (See table 3.)
Individuals born from 1980 to 1984 held an average of 4.9 jobs from age 18 to age 23. Those
with more education held more jobs than those with less education. (See table 4.)
High school graduates who had never enrolled in college were employed an average of 74 percent
of the weeks from age 18 to age 23. By comparison, those who had dropped out of high
school were employed 54 percent of those weeks. (See table 4.)
Six percent of individuals who had not earned a high school diploma or General Educational
Development (GED) credential before their 24th birthday had never held a job since the time
they left high school. (See table 5.)
Educational Attainment at Age 23
Nineteen percent of individuals had earned a bachelor’s degree by the October when they were age 23,
up from 10 percent at age 22. The percent of individuals enrolled in college fell from 27 percent at age
22 to 16 percent at age 23. Forty-seven percent of 23-year-olds had graduated from high school and
were not enrolled in college, and 8 percent had earned a GED credential and were not enrolled in
college. Eleven percent of individuals were high school dropouts during the October when they were age
(See table 1.)
Women were 1.6 times as likely as men to have earned a bachelor’s degree by the October when they
were age 23 and were equally likely to be enrolled in college. Twenty-three percent of women had
earned a bachelor’s degree, compared with 14 percent of men. Women were less likely than men at age
23 to be high school dropouts or high school graduates not enrolled in college.
There remains a large gap in educational attainment among racial and ethnic groups. At age 23, non-
Hispanic whites were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics or Latinos to have
earned a bachelor’s degree. Twenty-two percent of non-Hispanic whites had earned a bachelor’s degree,
compared with 9 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 8 percent of Hispanics or Latinos. Non-Hispanic
blacks and Hispanics or Latinos were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be high school dropouts
in the October when they were age 23….
John Hechinger has an article in Bloomberg/Business Week about the data, Women Top Men In Earning Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. Data Shows
There are some good information sources about helping boys to learn. PBS Parents in Understanding and Raising Boys advises the following strategies:
Let them play. Give boys lots of opportunities for physical activity and don’t expect them to sit still for long periods of time. “Play is the work of childhood, it’s how kids learn social skills and develop verbal skills, and it’s vanishing from the classroom. Kids are not being allowed to play enough in school, both indoors and outdoors,” says Jane Katch.
Create learning activities where boys use their bodies. “Boys learn best when learning is ‘hands-on.’ They learn by touching, moving, climbing on, and building things. They solve problems physically — so if kids are handling real things, they will learn more effectively. This applies to kindergarten and throughout their school experience,” says Joseph Tobin.
Let boys read (and listen to) books that appeal to their interests. “Know your boys, know their passions, and know what books can speak to those passions. Boys are open to reading — if they can make their own choices. We read to connect to interests we have — and literacy piggybacks on those interests,” says Thomas Newkirk. “I tell my prospective teachers that they should have at least a thousand books in their heads — possibilities for students to read. Unless we can build a base in reading thousands and thousands of words our students will never be able to read the classics. And by reading, I think we need to look at all kinds of reading — magazines, graphic novels, humor, etc. — and not just classical literature.”
Read aloud to boys and have them read aloud to you. “One practice that is critical is reading aloud to boys. This stops way too early in homes and in schools. Reading aloud is a bridge to reading the child might do later on, independently,” advises Newkirk.
Allow boys to write about what interests them instead of what interests you. “When children are learning to write, give them opportunities to write about subjects that are most meaningful to them — what they love, what they hate, what scares them and what excites them,” recommends Katch. “This way they will learn the power and significance of using the written word to communicate. If they write in a way that causes others to be disturbed, then talk about ways they can write what is important to them without disturbing others rather than prohibiting their expression. I personally think Pokemon is boring but I know a boy who wrote 27 books about it and went from being a non-writer to a terrific writer. Another”” practice is connecting writing to digital storytelling. I think we need to conceptualize reading and writing as multi-modal involving not only print but music, visuals, and more,” adds Newkirk.
Allow discussion of topics boys may want to talk about (but teachers and girls may not). “In a classroom that allows boys’ thoughts and fantasies to be expressed in their stories and their play, controversial issues will come up. In my class, some children did not want to hear any story that contained killing,” notes Katch. “But several boys complained that their stories of good guys and bad guys sometimes need to contain killing off the bad guy. When we discussed the problem, the children realized that everyone thought it was all right to kill the bad guys; there were objections only when a character was killed who was not clearly bad. So the boys agreed that they would only kill off evil characters. The children realized that by talking about what was important to them, they could communicate with each other and come to an agreement that felt right to everyone.”
Allow boys to express humor in appropriate ways and at appropriate times. “Include satire, parody, and humor in the curriculum, and don’t be too hard on boys who are class clowns. Instead, acknowledge the boy’s skill at being humorous. If the boy gets credit for this quality, he may not repeat the behavior. If you treat a clown as your biggest problem you are creating a conflict. Treat that boy with respect and respectfully ask him to make jokes at another time, if they get out of control,” advises Joseph Tobin. “Sometimes, you just have to have a sense of humor about the boy’s sense of humor. Most teachers I know admit that as annoying as boy humor can be, it can also brighten up the day,” adds Michael Thompson.
Classroom Strategies to Get Boys Reading
Me Read? A Practical Guide to Improving Boys Literacy Skills
Understanding Gender Differences: Strategies To Support Girls and Boys
Helping Underachieving Boys Read Well and Often
Boys and Reading Strategies for Success
Children, Especially Boys Need Positive Male Role Models
All Children, Especially Low-Income Kids Need Committed and Involved Fathers
Helping Low-Income Fathers to Become Better and More Involved Parents Is Good For Education
Sharon Osborne Is Right The Cult of Celebrity Is Making Our Children Stupid
Drew Barrymore: Poster Child For Why We Need Strong Families
Info 101: Relationship Meltdown and the Effect on Children
“Sisters Are Doin’ For Themselves,” But Could Use Some Help
Troops to Teachers, Yes, Yes, Yes
What Will Help Young African American Males? It is the Family, Stupid
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at [email protected]
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