College Graduation Rates Up for Women

American universities may be transforming into an environment dominated by women.

In 2007, women earned nearly two thirds of all associate degrees and 57% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to undergraduate students, according to new data from the American Council on Education. Similarly, the report also found that women now earn the majority of graduate degrees as well.

At the same time, the completion rate for women is up, compared to men. Of women aged 25-34, 42% had earned an associate or bachelor’s degree, while just 34% of men of that age group had done so.

“Each generation of younger women in the United States is continuing to reach higher levels of postsecondary attainment, while the attainment levels of younger men are falling,” the Council said in a press release.

While the study’s results are uplifting for women, on the whole they paint a grim picture of the country’s higher education system.

In 2008, 37.5% of those between the ages of 25-34 had at least an associate degree, which is the same completion rate as those who are 45-64 years old. In other words, as the study concludes, young adults today really are no better educated than the previous generation.

This is particularly troubling because there has clearly been an increased desire among American families to send their children to college in recent years. In fact, between 1997-2007, the number of white students enrolled in two- and four-year universities increased from 9.7 million to 10.8 million, and the number of minority students increased even more drastically, from 3.6 million to 5.4 million.

However, part of the problem is that the completion rate among some minority students is still subpar. For example, less than half of the African American students who enrolled at a two-year college ended up getting a degree, and despite the increasing number of minorities in college, two-thirds of all degrees went to white students.