Nation's youngest will face less competition getting into college

Lauren Williams's picture

Demographics are changing rapidly in the United States. From the late 1980’s until a few years ago, the number of high school graduates has been steadily increasing until it peaked in 2008 at about 3.3 million students. This number has been declining and will continue to decline for the next few years. For every 100 18-year-olds there are today, there are only 95 four-year-olds and in some parts of the country the spread is much greater.

The numbers by themselves do not tell the whole story. The composition of our younger population is changing significantly. Areas where the younger population is growing are primarily lower income; by contrast in many of the highest income, most educated counties in the country, the number of young children is much less than the number of 18-year-olds.

For example, “in Somerset and Morris Counties, N.J., both with median incomes of more than $98,000, the populations of 4-year-olds compared with 18-year-olds are 26% and 32% smaller, respectively,” according to the Chronicle of HigherEducation. By contrast, of about 450 counties with significantly more younger children than older, more than two-thirds of these counties have median incomes below $50,000 which is less than the national median of $52,000.

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