College is a ‘thing’ again

Eric Risberg | AP

Reports of the demise of college were premature.

Yes, kids are graduating with debt they may never be able to repay. Yes, the jobs market isn’t particularly great for graduating seniors (although it’s better than without a degree). Yes, the tuition keeps going up faster than the rate of inflation.

But, no, going to college isn’t losing its luster.

The Washington Post Wonkette Wonkblog says the dip in college enrollment after the economy’s collapse in 2008 is over. That dip had suggested that kids were simply going straight to the workforce or, worse, hanging out in their parents’ basement.

According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week, the percentage of high school graduates who went right into college ticked up to 68.4 percent of 2.9 million kids total in 2014, from 65.9 percent the year before. The number had already been rising for young men and bounced back strongly for young women, boosting the overall average.

Wonkette says one reason is parents, who might’ve lost jobs during the collapse, are able to help foot the bill again.

Why the sudden reversal? Well, the Labor Department cautions that the data set can be noisy, and it’s best to wait until an increase repeats itself for a few years before calling it a genuine trend.

But the agency’s economists speculate that the improving job market might mean that more gainfully employed parents can help with tuition bills, or that kids themselves can work their way through college — although nine of 10 young people enrolled were full-time, 44.7 percent of those full-timers participated in the labor force, as well.