In recent years, policymakers have shifted their focus from high school graduation rates to
post-secondary success. A high school diploma is no longer sufcient for students to meet the demandsof the 21st century global economy. The New York State Education Department reports that roughlytwo-thirds of all new jobs require some form of post-secondary education, and that seven of the top tenfastest-growing occupations require a post-secondary degree.
Students who do not complete college cannot compete with their peers who have received degrees.
Nationwide, in 2010, young adults aged 25-34 with a bachelor’s degree earned 50 percent more than
their peers with only a high school diploma.
This includes young adults from every racial category.
According to the 2010 American Community Survey, the average annual earnings for New York Cityresidents with a bachelor’s degree were almost $33,000 greater than workers who had only completed
Over the course of a lifetime, a worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1.5 million more
than a worker with only a high school degree.
The New York City Comptroller’s Ofce has estimated that only one out of every ve public school
students earns a college degree within twelve years of starting high school.
Interestingly, this estimate
of 21 percent is nearly identical to the current college readiness rate of 21.6 percent.
“Our Challenge: Graduating Students College and Career Ready,” presentation by New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr., June 2012.
“The Condition of Education 2012,” U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, May 2012.
“Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings Estimates,” American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, September 2011.
The estimate of lifetime earnings is derived from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). This survey does not track individuals over time,which would provide direct estimates of individual lifetime earnings. Rather, the ACS offers a snapshot of individual earnings at a point in time. First,the mean earnings for individuals by education level and age group were calculated. Then lifetime earnings were estimated based on the assumption
that a NYC high school graduate’s earnings, for example, would follow the pattern of earnings of NYC high school graduates of different age groups
as of 2010. For example, a NYC high school graduate’s lifetime earnings = 3 X (mean earnings of high school graduates age 18-21) + 5 X (mean earn
ings of high school graduates age 20-25) + 5 X (mean earnings of high school graduates age 25-30) etc., through age 65. This approach is consistentwith published methods for calculating lifetime earnings. For example, see “Education and Synthetic Work-Life Earnings Estimates” at
“Beyond High School: Higher education as a growth and scal strategy for New York City,” September, 2012, New York City Comptroller’s Ofce,http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/opm/reports/2012/Higher-Education-Report-FINAL.pdf, accessed on October 1, 2012.
“2010_2011_HS_PR_Results_2012_3_16,” March 16, 2012, New York City Department of Education, http://schools.nyc.gov/Accountability/tools/report/default.htm, accessed on June 1, 2012.
new york city comptroller
John c. liu
the pOwer OF guiDANce:
giving high school students the college counseling they need
How Many New York City Public SchoolStudents Graduate from College?
100 Students Beginthe 9th Grade
Source: New York City Comptroller’s Oce
71 GraduateHigh School
within 6 years
48 Enroll in College
at either a Two-Year orFour-Year Institution
21 Graduate College
within 12 years earning either anAssociate's or Bachelor's Degree