America’s Youth at 21: School Enrollment, Training, and Employment Transitions between Ages 20 and 21 Summary

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Among 21-year-olds, women are more likely than men to be enrolled in college, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor. The report – based on findings from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 – found that 46 percent of 21-year-old women were enrolled in college, while 36 percent of men were attending college at age 21. 

The survey also broke down the whereabouts of college dropouts and young adults who never attended college, finding that 10 percent of male high school graduates who never attended college were in the Armed Forces at age 21, as well as 6 percent of men with some college experience but were no longer enrolled. Of female high school graduates who never attended college, 1.4 percent were in the Armed Forces at 21, while 1.8 percent at the same age with some college experience were in the Armed Forces.  More than 70 percent of non-college-attending female high school graduates – both with and without some college experience – held civilian jobs at 21, a figure comparable to their male counterparts.

Researchers first surveyed about 9,000 respondents aged 12 to 17 in 1997 and checked up on them annually for the next 10 years to compile the full report. Free, 14 pages.  (202) 691-5902,


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