The popular culture tells us that college “kids” are recent high school graduates, living on campus, taking art history, drinking too much on weekends, and (hopefully) graduating four years later.
But these days that narrative of the residential, collegiate experience is way off, says Alexandria Walton Radford, who heads up postsecondary education research at RTI International, a think tank in North Carolina. What we see on movie screens and news sites, she says, is skewed to match the perceptions of the elite: journalists, researchers, policymakers.
Today’s college student is decidedly nontraditional — and has been for a while. “This isn’t a new phenomenon,” Radford says. “We’ve been looking at this since 1996.”
“America’s path to progress has long depended on our nation’s colleges and universities—and today, that’s more true than ever, when a college degree is increasingly a ticket to 21st-century careers and a secure middle class life or better,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Higher education is the gateway to opportunity for all people.”
Editor’s Note: State-by-state data follow in the table below.
Earning a college degree remains one of the most important investments one can make in his or her future. Over the course of a lifetime, the average American with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $1 million more than those without any postsecondary education, are more likely to repay their loans successfully, and is also far less likely to face unemployment. Ensuring all Americans have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the global economy is critical to our nation’s economic competitiveness and success; by 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training.
State and local spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of funding for public education for preschool through grade P-12 education in the last three decades, a new analysis by the U.S. Department of Education found.
Released today, the report, Trends in State and Local Expenditures on Corrections and Education, notes that even when population changes are factored in, 23 states increased per capita spending on corrections at more than double the rate of increases in per-pupil P-12 spending. Seven states—Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia—increased their corrections budgets more than five times as fast as they did their allocations for P-12 public education. The report also paints a particularly stark picture of higher education spending across the country at a time when postsecondary education matters more than ever. Since 1990, state and local spending on higher education has been largely flat while spending on corrections has increased 89 percent.
“Budgets reflect our values, and the trends revealed in this analysis are a reflection of our nation’s priorities that should be revisited,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “For far too long, systems in this country have continued to perpetuate inequity. We must choose to make more investments in our children’s future. We need to invest more in prevention than in punishment, to invest more in schools, not prisons.”