Sep 19, 2011

15 Interesting Facts about Higher Education

In addition to providing a compelling profile of today’s undergraduate students, the Chronicle of Higher Education has compiled a wide range of statistics for its annual Almanac. Some are entirely predictable but others leave even professionals scratching their heads.

For example, it’s not surprising that the number of education majors has taken a real hit—down five percent in 10 years—but would you have guessed that during the same period majors in park, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies rose by 92 percent?

Or did you know that Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia, grew by 342% in five-year period ending in 2009?

For those who don’t have a subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education, I am sharing 15 higher-ed statistics you may find interesting or at least useful conversation starters:

  1. Among freshmen, 21.7 percent characterize themselves as “conservative," while 27.3 percent are "liberal."

  2. Over 19 percent of college freshmen hope to earn a Ph.D., while 10.2 percent want to join the medical profession as doctors, vets, or dentists.

  3. The most degrees awarded in 2009 went to health professions and related clinical sciences (165,185); the fewest went to library science (116).

  4. Overall undergraduate enrollment went up by 38 percent in the 10-year period ending in 2009, with the highest growth in Arizona (149%), Iowa (92%), Georgia (77%), West Virginia (56%), and Florida (54%).

  5. A little over 3 percent of all undergrads are veterans, and 1 percent is on active duty or in the reserves.

  6. Twenty percent of all first-time undergrads took at least one remedial class.

  7. The number of high school graduates is projected to grow by 10 percent in the next 10 years, with most northeastern states experiencing declines while Texas and Florida each expect to grow by 24 percent.

  8. Twenty-three percent of full time undergrads (24 years old or younger) work 20 hours or more per week.

  9. The most popular field of study/major is business (13.7%) and, the least popular is agriculture (0.7%).

  10. The most frequently cited religious preference was Roman Catholic (26.6%); the least frequently cited was Quaker (0.2%).

  11. The fastest growing field in terms of growth in bachelor’s degrees awarded, is “military technologies” which went up by a whopping 2650%.

  12. Over 30 percent of all Asians, age 25 and over have earned at least a bachelor’s degree.

  13. Slightly over 47% of students came from households earning less than $40,000, while 11% came from household earning over $120,000.

  14. Most students under 30 attend school on a part time basis (58.2%).

  15. The percent of students feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do increased from 18.1% in 1985 to 29.1% in 2010, with nearly 10 percent indicating there was a very good chance they would seek personal counseling.

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