President Obama Says U.S. Must Lead World in College Graduations by 2020

Aug 10, 2010
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
Graduates of Barnard College at commencement ceremonies. (Photo: Reuters Pictures).

Saying that increased college graduation rates are critical to the country's long-term economic health, President Obama called Monday for the United States to reclaim its spot as the world leader in college graduation by the year 2020.

Currently, the U.S. doesn't even make the Top 10 for college graduation rates. The country comes in 12th out of 36 developed nations, according to a report released by the College Board in July.

Canada currently leads all nations with 56 percent of its students completing college.

Both the College Board and President Obama have warned that Americans' failure to complete college threatens the nation's global competitiveness, especially as the ranks of grads in rapidly developing nations such as China, Brazil and India swell.

Meeting the administration's 2020 goal will require 60 percent of all young Americans to earn a degree, according to the New York Times, where reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg crunches some numbers:

While close to 70 percent of high school graduates in the United States enroll in college within two years, just 57 percent graduate within six years. Currently, about 16.7 million Americans age 25 to 34 possess college degrees, but the administration calculates that for the United States to resume its place as the world leader in college graduation rates, the nation will have to provide a way for 11 million more young people to enter and complete college by the end of the decade.

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