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60 Riveting College Student Statistics

by Darko Jacimovic

College is the key to success

This expression is something most of us have been hearing our whole lives. Today, we’ll try to find out if it’s true.

The college student statistics that are presented in this text are a combination of raw data, experts’ predictions, and the mistakes from the past. These stats will point prospective college students the right way and help them make the best decision that will secure their future. 

Some high school graduates are debating whether to go to college, while others can’t decide where to go. 

Is private university worth the extra cost, or should they settle for the local community college? 

You’ll find the answer to these and many more questions below.

10 Key College Student Statistics and Facts

  • Bachelor’s degree holders earn $48,500 per year, while high school grads earn $23,900.
  • 46% of jobs in the US require higher education.
  • A single year of college decreases mortality rates from certain diseases by 15-19%.
  • 14.67 million students are expected to enroll in public universities in the US this year, while 5.24 million will go for private ones.
  • The University of Phoenix has the highest enrollment numbers in the US.
  • 50% of the college population are first-generation students.
  • 23% of undergraduate students work more than 20 hours per week.
  • The average college student attends 62 parties in a year.
  • Just 1.8 million students graduate each year.
  • It takes an average of 5.6 years to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Reasons to Go to College Statistics

College Student Statistics - Library

1. Workers with a bachelor’s degree earn more.

(Study)

For those wondering whether going to college is worth it, here’s one of the most compelling arguments: 

College graduates earn $48,500 per year, while those with just a high school diploma make $23,900 per year on average.

Even those with an associate degree earn more; the difference between their and high school graduates’ yearly salary is $6,500.

2. College graduates are less likely to be unemployed.

(Southern New Hampshire University)

According to the college student stats provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher is significantly lower than for those who decided not to attend college. College graduates face an unemployment rate of 2.7%, while high school diploma holders can’t find work in 5.2% of the cases.

3. 46% of jobs in the US require a college degree.

(CollegeAtlas)

Here’s another important item on the list of why is college important statistics:

The job pool for college graduates expands immensely. 32% of jobs in the US have bachelor’s or associate degrees listed as a requirement, while 14% of the jobs require a master’s degree or a Ph.D. High school graduates are not qualified for nearly half of the jobs available in the US.

4. The unemployment rate for young adults is 24.2%.

(Stage of Life)

As evident by the previous stat, finding work without education is extremely hard these days. Young adults who decide to work instead of going to college can expect difficulties during the process, to say the least.

5. 75% of all homebuyers in 2016 had a college education.

(Zillow)

College graduates are also more likely to be able to purchase a home. According to the 2016 real estate market data, three-quarters of all homebuyers were college-educated. This piece of statistics on college students is compared to just 11% of homebuyers with just a high school diploma and 14% who attended college but never earned a degree.

6. A year of college can decrease mortality rates from certain diseases by 15-19%.

(Brookings)

The reduced stress that comes with a higher salary and increased job security for those with a college degree might be the thing that convinces younger generations to take this big step in their lives. The drops in cancer and heart disease risks are what decreases mortality rates for college attendees so dramatically. 

College Enrollment Statistics

College Student Statistics - Desk

7. It is expected that 14.67 million students will enroll in public universities this year.

(Statista)

The latest predictions suggest that almost 15 million freshmen will attend public universities across the US starting this fall. When it comes to private universities, the number of new students is expected to be around 5.24 million. This means that public university enrollment will drop by 0.4% from 2018, while remaining roughly the same for private entities.

8. 16.8 million students started college in 2017.

(National Center for Education Statistics)

Despite this year’s projected reduction, there’s been an obvious rising trend in the number of high school graduates who’ve decided to pursue higher education in the last few decades. Even when looking at how many college students in the US started school in 2017, we can see a difference of 13.7% compared to this year’s predictions. Between 2000 and 2010, college enrollment increased by 37%.

9. 11.2 million female students were enrolled in 2018.

(Educationdata)

The majority of students enrolled in 2018 were female. The number of male students who were enrolled last year is estimated at 8.7 million. When it comes to the age of 2018 college applicants, 12.3 million of them were younger than 25, while 7.6 million were above that age, college freshman statistics show.

10. A 3% enrollment growth is expected in the period 2017-2028.

(NCES)

Experts predicted in 2017 that college enrollments for both female and male undergraduate students will increase by 3% in the upcoming decade. The predicted growth is considered substantial, even though it is nowhere near the numbers we witnessed between 2000 and 2010. 

11. The University of Phoenix has the highest enrollment rate.

(NCES)

According to the numbers from fall 2016, the University of Phoenix had 131,629 total enrollments. College student enrollment trends haven’t changed since; the University of Phoenix is followed by Western Governors University (84,289 enrollments per year) and Ivy Tech Community College (78,910 enrollments per year).

12. Park, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies is one of the most sought-after degrees.

(The College Solution) (Niche)

STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees are widely perceived as the most valuable. However, parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies is a major that had one of the largest growths; during the last decade, 31,667 students graduated with this degree, showing a 92% growth in popularity. College trends and predictions for 2020 show that the list of the most popular degrees remains unchanged. 

Here’s how it looks:

  • Business and Management (289,384 degrees awarded yearly)
  • Nursing (141,632 degrees awarded yearly)
  • Psychology (127,066 degrees awarded yearly)
  • Biology (120,375 degrees awarded yearly)

Engineering (117,553 degrees awarded yearly)

13. 50% of the college population are first-generation college students.

(first generation foundation)

It is estimated that around half of the college population’s parents have never attended college, with 30% of all freshmen being first-generation college students. First-generation college student statistics include one unfortunate piece of data: 

86% of low-income first-generation students leave college within 6 years without earning a degree.

14. Just 0.5% of undergrads are in one of the Ivy League universities.

(The College Solution)

The Ivy League is collegiate athletic conference that includes eight private universities from the Northeastern US. All of them are considered elite schools, and they are unbelievably hard to get into. Enrollment requires exceptional academic or athletic results, lots of hard work and luck, or money and connections. You can see the list of Ivy League colleges, as well as their enrollment statistics, in the next section.

Ivy League 2019 Enrollment: College Statistics by University

College Student Statistics - Student

15. Harvard University had 43,330 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Harward had a record-topping applicant pool this year. However, they’ve also had record-low admissions. Just 1,950, or 4.5%, of them, are now enrolled in the 2023 Harvard Class.

16. Yale University had 36,843 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Yale is another prestigious university that had a vast number of candidates to choose from yet managed to get record-low admission rates. Just 2,178 candidates, which translates to 5.8%, were accepted.

17. Princeton University had 32,804 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Princeton is the first of just two Ivy League universities on this list that increased their acceptance rate this year. College student statistics for the incoming class show that 1,895 candidates were accepted. This translates to 5.77%, up from 5.49% for the Class of 2022.

18. Columbia University had 42,569 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Columbia University brings us back to the colleges with lower admissions compared to previous years. They decided to enroll 2,190 of this year’s applicants, which is 5.1% of the total pool. Last year, their acceptance rate was 5.51%.

19. Brown University had 38,674 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Another Ivy League university, another drop in enrollments. Brown University accepted 2,551 students or 6.6% of this year’s applicants. Last year, their acceptance rate was 7.4%.

20. The University of Pennsylvania had 44,960 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

College statistics from the University of Pennsylvania show that 3,345 applicants received a chance to receive their degrees from this school in 2023. Their acceptance rate for this year was 7.44%, while last year that number stood at 8.39%.

21. Dartmouth College had 23,650 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Dartmouth College enrolled 1,868 students in its Class of 2023. This school also had a record-low year when it comes to admission rates; 7.9% of applicants were admitted, down from 8.74% for their Class of 2022.

22. Cornell University had 49,118 applicants this year.

(Crimson)

Cornell is the second university on this list of Ivy League schools that had an increase in admission rate compared to 2018. They enrolled 5,183 students, or 10.6% of the applicants, which makes them the highest admission rate university on this list.

Trends in Higher Education

College Student Statistics - University

23. $122.7 billion in grants and scholarships were awarded in 2013-2014.

(University of Colorado) (CNN) (NPR)

The trend of ever-increasing tuition is what prevents some high schoolers for even attempting to go to college. 

For those who think they can’t afford it, the number of grants and scholarships that are being awarded should be an encouraging factor. Athletes and exceptional students should have no difficulty getting one, with over 750,000 scholarships up for grabs in the US. It is estimated that 72% of scholarships go to Caucasian students.

24. 1,250,000 students transfer to a different university each year.

(University of Colorado)

College student statistics point out that around 10% of students change their minds about the school they first went with. The majority of them move closer to home, most commonly to a public university, as the tuition for out-of-state students can get quite expensive – as you’ll be able to read further down this text.

25. Engineering students can pay up to $5,000 more in tuition.

(CollegeData)

Some fields are more competitive than others. For those fields, prospective students can expect to pay a premium. For example, the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers a major that costs $5,000 more in yearly tuition than majors in other fields.

26. Tuitions and fees for private colleges average at $34,740.

(CollegeData)

The percentage of high school graduates that go to college in 2019 would be much greater if tuitions were more reasonable: 

Public colleges for out-of-state students cost $25,290 per year on average. For in-state students, the price averages $9,970, which is still far from cheap. Room and board at four-year public schools averaged $10,800 last year, while private school students paid $12,210. Students at both private and public schools paid $1,250 for books and supplies in 2018.

27. Public colleges are expecting a decline in enrollments in 2019.

(Precision Campus)

College trends in 2019 suggest that there might be a significant decline in public college enrollments this year. During the recession of 2007-2009, public colleges saw a 33% increase in enrollments. 29% of all college students went to community colleges in 2010. By 2015, when the economy recovered, that figure dropped to 25%. As the economy keeps improving, community college enrollments will keep going down.

28. College leadership will change in 2019.

(American Council on Education)

58% of college presidents in the US are older than 60. Due to the age factor, as well as the decreasing percentage of students in public schools, a large number of US higher education institutions are expected to change their leadership. More women are expected to take on leadership roles in American universities, as just 30% of college presidents were female in 2016. 

29. 1,125,000 students drop out each year.

(University of Colorado)

A little under 10% of students drop out every year. A third of them will do so due to the high tuition. You can find out more about the primary reason why college students quit school further down this list of college facts and stats.

30. Online education has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years.

(Online Learning Consortium) (Best Colleges Online)

E-learning has become widely accepted in the last decade and a half. During this period, the number of students has increased four times. 25.8% of all American college students took at least one online class. The number of students who attend college strictly online is over 2.6 million, or 12.5% of all college students.

31. 69% of online students are there to advance their career.

(Best Colleges)

College student trends for 2019 predict that this will be the second year in a row when the majority of college students decide to earn their degree in a field they already work in in order to expand their career opportunities. Lifelong learners accounted for 20% of online students in 2018, and this percentage is expected to remain the same. Recent high school graduates make just 13% of online college attendees.

32. 32% of online students have no concerns about their choice.

(Best Colleges)

A large portion of online students isn’t worried about their education choice. However, 23% of them list the quality of instruction and academic support as their main concern. 18% worry about the prejudice that potential employers might have towards online degrees, 17% are concerned about the lack of community and interaction with lecturers and students. The rest worry about their ability to handle learning new technology and software required for distance education.

College Life Statistics

College Student Statistics - University Library

33. Toyota Yaris is the car most commonly driven by college students.

(University of Colorado)

Toyota Yaris is the car we’re most likely to encounter driving around college towns. It’s cheap to run, easy to park, and not too ugly to look at. However, this is not the most common vehicle that college students use.

34. GS Motor Works CY50-B is the most commonly driven vehicle.

(University of Colorado)

The most common vehicle is a scooter, specifically GS Motor Works CY50-50. The reason behind its popularity is probably the price tag – the thing costs just $769, which is less expensive than the books for the year.

35. iPod is the most commonly stolen personal item.

(College Advisor)

The list of what is trending with college students tells us that those living on campus shouldn’t be afraid about someone stealing their car or a bike, but rather their iPod. Even though the gadget has pretty much become obsolete, it is still the most commonly stolen item.

36. $2,800 is the average yearly food and drinks budget for college students.

(College Advisor) (Deloitte)

An average college student spends close to $3K on food and drinks during the school year. This is just one of the many statistics that show how expensive college life can be.

37. The average household spends $1,362 on back-to-college supplies.

(Stage of Life)

According to older surveys, the average American household spent close to a thousand dollars on all of the things their college student needed when returning to school after spending the summer home. Data for more recent years shows an exponential increase, with US households spending a combined total of $25.1 billion in 2018.

38. 42% of college students feel down, depressed, or hopeless.

(Stage of Life)

College students are often exhausted. Due to the high cost of higher education, a big percentage of them have to take a part-time or even a full-time job. This, aided by loneliness and separation from their families and friends, leads almost half of all students in the US to feel down, depressed, or even outright hopeless.

Working College Students Statistics

College Student Statistics - University classrooms

39. 47% of undergraduate students’ families have a yearly income lower than $40,000.

(The College Solution)

Almost half of all undergrads in the US come from families that have low income. On the other end of the spectrum, 4.5% of students are from wealthy families that earn more than $160,000 per year.

40. 23% of undergraduate students work more than 20 hours per week.

(University of Colorado)

Almost a fifth of all college students need to work over 20 hours per week in addition to attending classes and doing school work just to afford college. It should come as no surprise that so many of them are feeling bad and opt to quit.

41. Asian students are the least likely to work more than 20 hours per week.

(The College Solution)

Asian undergrad students defy the stereotype; just 12% of them work over 20 hours per week.

42. 76% of graduate students work at least 30 hours per week.

(The Atlantic)

Grad students are even busier; statistics about college students show that more than three-quarters of them work over 30 hours per week in order to afford tuition and other necessities, as well as to improve their future employment odds.

43. 31.4% of four-year college attendees participated in the labor force in 2018.

(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Close to a third of all recent college graduates enrolled in four-year colleges participated in the labor force to some extent in 2018. For two-year colleges, that number was even higher, at 44.9%.

44. The average working student makes $11 per hour.

(University of Colorado) (The Washington Post)

College students stats painfully point to the fact that, no matter how much work they put in, both undergrad and grad students are unlikely to make enough money to cover their tuition and living expenses. It is important to keep in mind that some of them are working at the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, which amounts to $6,380 per year for part-time workers.

45. Female college students spend 16 hours more working than their male peers.

(Stage of Life)

Once again, female college students prevail. College student trends in 2018 surveys found that they typically work 16 hours more than male students. This figure includes the combined time spent on a job as well as on school work.

46. 54% of college dropouts say they couldn’t balance work and school.

(CreditDonkey)

The primary reason why college students decide to quit school isn’t related to their habits, laziness, or inability to function independently. Around 600,000 young people quit their education because they can’t find the right balance between work and school.

College Party Statistics

College Student Statistics - Doors

47. The average college student attends 62 parties in a year.

(University of Colorado)

The students who decide to stay in college despite financial difficulties have a blast. Surveys show that the average college student goes to 62 parties during the school year. Considering that the entire school year has 180 class days, we can safely say that students like to party a lot.

48. Tulane University is rated as the top party school in America for 2019.

(Niche)

Here’s the top-five list for those who want to spend their four years of college partying, based on best colleges statistics provided by Niche:

  • Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
  • University of Georgia, Athens, GA
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
  • Howard University, Washington, DC

49. 59.8% of college students drink at least once a month.

(The Washington Post)

One thing that goes against attending college is the fact that college students are more likely to drink than young adults who aren’t attending these institutions. Close to 60% of 18-22-year-olds who attend college drink at least once a month, while 51.5% of those who aren’t enrolled do the same.

50. Over 1 million students attend Spring Break every year.

(College Advisor)

College statistics show that 1,125,000 million students attend Spring Break on average every year. Going to popular Spring Break destinations such as Cancun, Las Vegas, Miami, and others, college students travel 934 miles on average. For those using the metric system, the mileage translates to just over 1,500 kilometers. It is equal to the distance between Belgrade and Barcelona or London and Budapest.

51. 88,750 arrests are made during Spring Break.

(University of Colorado)

Interesting statistics about college students can also serve as a warning to current and prospective students: it’s alright to relax once in a while and enjoy a few drinks with your friends. However, drink responsibly, as numerous things can go wrong due to inebriation. This statistic clearly shows how out of control things can get, especially during holidays such as Spring Break.

52. 25% of college students currently have or have had an STD.

(University of Colorado)

A quarter of college students have had to deal with an STD during their time in college. 400,000 students report engaging in unsafe sex while drunk, which is another drink responsibly warning.

Crazy College Statistics

College Student Statistics - Graduates

53. Just 1.8 million college students graduate each year.

(University of Colorado)

On a national level, college graduation statistics are a bleak sight to behold. Around 12% of students graduate on time, according to data provided by the University of Colorado. On the other hand, some prestigious colleges, such as Harvard University, have a graduation rate of 98%. Much stricter candidate selection processes are probably the biggest reason behind this difference.

54. The average student skips on 26 classes per year.

(University of Colorado)

College student trends for 2019 that we’ll be able to analyze soon are expected to reiterate this never-changing factoid. Students have always skipped classes and will continue to do so. For various reasons, a typical college student skips 26 classes in two semesters.

55. The average student is $37,000 in debt by the time they graduate.

(The Quad)

There aren’t many college students who can brag about graduating debt-free. In fact, 59% of millennials say they don’t know when they’ll be able to pay off their student loans.

56. Just 52% of students know how much their first year of college costs.

(The Quad)

College student trends show that the total amount of money borrowed for college costs exceeds $1.3 trillion, with 44 million borrowers. Finding out that more than half of them have no clue how much they’ve borrowed is perplexing, to put it mildly. 

57. 42% of college students will never read a book after graduating.

(University of Colorado)

Those who read at least 15 minutes per day read over 1 million words in a year. College students seem to get pretty knackered by the mandatory reading and studying, as 42% of them will never read a full book again in their life, college student statistics stress.

58. The average number of parking tickets issued in a year is two per student.

(College Advisor) (my central jersey)

For every year spent in college, an average student will get two parking tickets. Some universities can thank parking violations for making up a decently sized chunk of their budget. One of them is Rutgers University, which rakes in $5 million per year this way. We have colleges such as William Paterson University on the other end of the spectrum; it issues 71 times fewer parking tickets than Rutgers.

59. It takes an average of 5.6 years to complete a bachelor’s degree.

(Stage of Life)

The average 4-year degree takes more than 5.5 years to finish, college students stats show. Whether it’s due to students being overworked or whether it’s due to too much partying, this number is slowly moving towards the 6-year mark as the years go by.

60. 19% of college freshmen hope to earn a Ph.D.

(The College Solution)

Almost a fifth of new college students have high hopes for their academic careers, hoping to earn a Ph.D. at some point. 10.2% of all freshmen hope to become the other, medical, kind of doctor.

Conclusion

College Student Statistics - conclusion

Whether a college education is worth the effort is a debate that has a clear winning side. The notion from the beginning of this text definitely stands. 

And here’s the bottom line:

Education is something that can’t be taken away from us, and it’s something that we should all cherish and strive for. It expands minds, removes boundaries, and creates lifelong friendships. Hopefully, the college student statistics listed on these pages have helped someone realize this or at the very least provided entertaining reading.

Sources:

  1. Study
  2. Southern New Hampshire University
  3. CollegeAtlas
  4. Stage of Life
  5. Zillow
  6. Brookings
  7. Statista
  8. National Center for Education Statistics
  9. Educationdata
  10. NCES
  11. NCES
  12. The College Solution
  13. Niche
  14. first generation foundation
  15. The College Solution
  16. Crimson
  17. University of Colorado
  18. CNN
  19. NPR
  20. CollegeData
  21. Precision Campus
  22. American Council on Education
  23. Online Learning Consortium
  24. Best Colleges Online
  25. Best Colleges
  26. University of Colorado
  27. College Advisor
  28. Deloitte
  29. The Atlantic
  30. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  31. The Washington Post
  32. CreditDonkey
  33. Niche
  34. The Quad
  35. my central jersey

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