College admission is a competitive challenge as large numbers of high school graduates determine higher education is a worthy pursuit. Some teens get accepted into college programs but decide not to go for budget or short-term career reasons. Others gain admission to college but never graduate. The number of teens who graduate from high school and get into college largely depends on their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, standardized test scores, parental input and high school guidance counselor recommendations.
Many high school graduates get accepted into post-secondary collegiate programs. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling in 2011, the average acceptance rate at four-year colleges and universities was 65.5 percent. The previous year, acceptance was approximately 66.5 percent, so acceptance rates declined slightly. University budgets, admission and enrollment predictions, need-based financial aid, scholarship awards and the economy as a whole affect acceptance rates.
High School Graduation
The number of high school graduates has slowly declined since the 2008-2009 school year. The NACAC reports that high school graduation rates peaked at 3.33 million in 2009 after more than a decade of steady growth. In 2011, an estimated 3.28 million students graduated. High school graduation rates are expected to remain below 2009 levels at least until the 2020-2021 school year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between October 2010 and October 2011, 369,000 young people dropped out of high school.
The number of students accepted into four-year, two-year and other industry-specific college programs doesn't mean all of those students actually enrolled. According to BLS statistics in 2011, 2.1 million of the 3.1 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24, or 68.3 percent of students who graduated from high school in 2011, were enrolled in college programs. The college enrollment rate for female graduates was 72.3 percent and 64.6 percent for males.
Some high school graduates attend colleges or universities full-time, while others opt for part-time admissions. According to the 2011 BLS report, about 85 percent of college students enrolled full-time, and 15 percent enrolled part-time. Job responsibilities, tuition costs, degree program requirements, family obligations and general financial considerations influence a student's decision to attend full- or part-time. Some scholarships and financial aid programs are only available to students who attend college full-time.