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Who is going to school in America?


(MoneyWatch) Did you know that more than one out of every four Americans who are at least three years of age is attending school? In all, 78 million people are enrolled in schools ranging from preschool to graduate school, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report on school enrollment in the U.S.

The data also show that while fewer students are dropping out of high school, fewer are choosing to attend college.

Some additional highlights of the Census Bureau's education report:

  • Students born in another country or whose parents are foreign-born constitute 32 percent of all those enrolled in U.S. schools at any level, up from 28.4 percent a decade ago.

  • White students now represent 53 percent of elementary school students, compared with 58 percent in 2005. Twenty-four percent of elementary students are Hispanic, up from 20 percent, and blacks represent 15 percent of elementary students, down from 16 percent.

  • During these tough economic times, fewer parents are sending their children to private schools. In the most recent reporting period, 4.2 million students were enrolled in private elementary, middle and high schools, versus 4.8 million in 2005.

  • Two percent of students aged 15 to 17 drop out of high school these days. The Census Bureau reported that the drop-out rate has "fallen dramatically" since 1971, but it didn't share what that old rate was.

  • The number of Americans attending college in the fall of 2012 shrank by nearly half a million students compared to the previous year.

  • College has become less popular among students who are at least 25 years old. Their enrollment dropped by 419,000, while the number of younger students enrolled in college declined by 49,000.

  • Of the 20 millions Americans enrolled in college as of last year, 10.3 million attended four-year colleges, while 5.8 million and 3.8 million were in two-year colleges and graduate school, respectively.

  • Women still outnumber men in college. Fifty-five percent of undergraduates were women and 57 percent of grad students. Women undergrads began outnumbering men in 1979, and they surpassed men in graduate school beginning in 1990.