By ELIZABETH KELLY, Associated Press Education resumes have never been so strong.
The latest national education rankings from the Education Department show that all but three states have some degree of continuing education, including more than 30 percent of the states that are among the nation’s top-ranked states for students enrolled in graduate-level college.
The ranking comes as states grapple with high student debt loads and the effects of the Great Recession.
States with more than 1,000 students who graduated from some type of college, as well as a handful of smaller states, also made the top 25 for advanced degrees, which offer the skills needed for a career in the labor market.
The data also shows the number of students who earned degrees has risen dramatically, from 6,836 in 2016 to 8,869 in 2020.
The rankings come as the national economy continues to slow down and as many states are grappling with the impact of the recession.
Education officials in California, Texas and New York have struggled to meet the needs of their rapidly growing population and workforce.
The states that ranked in the top 10 for advanced degree enrollment also ranked among the top-10 for graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
But as they have grown in size, the states with the best graduate degrees have also seen enrollment grow at a faster rate than the rest of the nation.
The number of college graduates who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees grew by 5.2 percent, while the number with doctoral degrees grew more than 3.5 percent, according to the Education Dept. report.
The overall number of high school graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree jumped to 6.6 million, and the number who had completed a master’s degree or a doctorate went up by 4.6 percent.
That compares with an increase of 0.6 percentage points in the number taking graduate-type courses.
In the past, states with large numbers of high-school graduates tended to have higher graduation rates and to have better outcomes for students with those degrees, said Paul Gagnon, chief executive officer of the College Board, a nonprofit education research and evaluation organization.
But now the trend is in a more favorable direction, Gagnons said.
States have also been doing a better job of preparing students for college.
About a third of all high school seniors in 2020 were prepared for college, up from 28 percent in 2015.
States also have been more successful in attracting students who are ready for higher education, and students have been moving into college faster.
The number of full-time students in 2020 rose by 6.4 percent compared with a 4.1 percent increase in 2015, and more than 2 million students were enrolled in college for the first time.
The Education Dept., which released the report Monday, also found that more than half of all U.S. high school students are enrolled in some type or another of advanced degree.
That number is up from 53 percent in the previous report, but it is still far short of the 60 percent share of all students who finished high school in 2020, according the report.