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Hitting the books

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A recent analysis of census data shows that a record number of young Americans are making educational strides.

More students are graduating from high school, starting college and finishing with a degree, the Pew Research Center reports.

One-third of America’s 25- to 29-year-olds have earned a bachelor’s degree, compared with one-fifth in the early 1970s, the New York Times notes. Among that age group this year, 90 percent were high school graduates, compared to 78 percent in 1971. Sixty-three percent have finished some college work, up from 34 percent in 1971.

The recession and high unemployment caused many young people to view college as a good option for their future. More Americans than ever before consider a college education to be important — about 75 percent, quite a jump from 36 percent in 1978.

People are recognizing that a college education does pay benefits. Anthony P. Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on the Education and the Workforce said: “The demand for college graduates has been increasing about 3 percent a year, while the supply has increased only 1 percent a year, which is why the college wage premium has increased so precipitously.”

The Pew report noticed other trends. The United States produced more college graduates than any other country until 1992. Now, other countries with highly developed economies are showing “similar or greater gains” than the United States, the report said.

Yet among Americans of different ages, there is not so much of an education gap. In 2007, adults aged 45 to 64 held more high school and college degrees than did 25- to 29-year-olds. The numbers have evened out since then.

Americans have long recognized the importance of education. But we must remember that some students find their aptitudes leading to vocational studies that carry opportunities as well.

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