Knocking at the College Door provides useful, accurate data to plan for the coming years. These reports highlight various aspects of the data and insights into the implications of the changing demographics facing the nation.



Knocking update: new data about private high school graduates

In the December 2016 edition of Knocking at the College Door, WICHE projected that the U.S. is headed into a period of stagnation in the overall number of high school graduates it produces and declining numbers of graduates from private religious and nonsectarian schools. New data confirm WICHE’s overall projections -- but, declines in the future number of private high school graduates no longer appear imminent through at least 2018.

WICHE is not issuing new projections of private high school graduates at this time, but the newly released data are described in this brief report, "Knocking update: new data about private high school graduates", and have been posted to knocking.wiche.edu/data so that users of the Knocking projections have access to this important new information about private high school graduates.

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In brief:

• New data show a recent strong increase in private school enrollment, despite a prior expectation of decline. These data suggest an increase in private school graduates through 2018, then potential decline up to 12 percent by 2025.

• The overall trends that WICHE projected for high school graduates still hold—including a period of stagnation, slow increase through 2032 and continued rapid diversification--despite the changes among private schools, which represent about 9 percent of all graduates.

• Catholic schools still enroll the majority of private school students, but their proportion is decreasing, the relative influence on trends of other private school types has increased, and there is wide variation by state.

Impact and Implications: Projections of Male & Female High School Graduates

This second supplement to WICHE's 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates (Dec. 2016) incorporates a new WICHE Insights report Impact and Implications: Projections of Male and Female High School Graduates, detailed projections of male and female high school graduates for the nation, region and the states, and an interactive chart dashboard.

Report only (no data pages)

The main Knocking at the College Door report illuminated many trends with critical impacts for colleges, universities and policymakers. These data about male and female high school graduates enable deeper insights about the differing demography and outcomes of males and females, including:

  • Though there are more males than females under age 19, fewer males graduate high school and pursue postsecondary education.

  • The lag in male educational attainment is more pronounced among Black and Hispanic students than the other large racial/ethnic groups. Since the Hispanic population is growing faster than the majority White population, this lag has implications for colleges, workforce, income prosperity, and families, especially in the South and West where Hispanic populations are prevalent.

  • After decades of constant increases, the numbers of high school graduates—male and female—are projected to begin declining (in the mid-2020s). Policymakers and educators must work to increase graduation rates and overall educational attainment, particularly for males and minorities, and address occupational and pay disparities that many working females encounter despite higher educational attainment.

Revision 10/17/17: Corrected Figure 3 legend

Fewer Students, More Diversity: The Shifting Demographics of High School Graduates

WICHE’s 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates, released in December 2016, describes substantial demographic changes among U.S. youth for the next 15 years with critical implications for higher education, including:

·         How might states, colleges, and universities adjust (or reconsider) duplicate or undersubscribed programs as college-aged populations flatten or (as in the Midwest and Northeast) even shrink?

·         As minority high school students move toward being the majority (by the 2030s), are higher education institutions fully prepared to support racial and ethnic diversity, student success, and programming oriented toward shifting populations? 

·         With college-age populations growing in Southern states more than other regions, how might interstate migration and resident/nonresident tuition-setting be affected?

·         Are Western colleges and universities, used to inexorable population growth, prepared for a new reality?

These and other potential implications are suggested by the first edition of a new WICHE report series, Data Insights, titled, Fewer Students, More Diversity: The Shifting Demographics of High School Graduates. This is the first of several 2017 WICHE publications that will drill down on data highlights from the 2016 edition of Knocking on the College Door, the quadrennial WICHE publication that reflects the most complete available snapshot of U.S. college-age demographics.


Knocking at the College Door (9th Edition)

One of the most widely cited sources of comprehensive and reliable data on the future size and composition of high school graduating classes throughout the nation, WICHE’s ninth edition of Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates (December 2016) examines data on public and private schools and projects the number of high school graduates for the nation, four geographic regions, the 50 states, and the District of Columbia. And, for the first time, WICHE also includes projections for Guam and Puerto Rico. Knocking also presents projections for public high school graduates, disaggregated by race/ethnicity.

Note: In December 2017, WICHE released new information about private high school graduates, which affects a number of pages throughout this report. Users are strongly advised to review the information available at knocking.wiche.edu/reports/privates when referring to private high school graduate trends.

Alternative formats available upon request.