Where are the 2020 high school grads?


At the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020, many graduating high school students decided to hold off enrolling in college. A new report indicates many of them still haven’t done so.

While the rate of students enrolling in college immediately after graduating high school is increasing, that’s not the case for the Class of 2020, whose college-going plans were significantly thwarted by the pandemic, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Only 0.7% of high school graduates who didn’t go immediately to college in fall 2020 had their first fall enrollment in 2021, and even fewer (0.2%) in fall 2022.

“The 2020 graduates who did not go to college immediately during the first pandemic fall, for the most part, still remained unenrolled two years later,” the center says in its annual report on high school graduates’ postsecondary enrollment, persistence and completion outcomes.

While many of those students haven’t enrolled, those who did enroll in the following two years tended to favor community colleges more than other higher education institutions. In 2020, graduating seniors who immediately went to college enrolled largely at public four-year institutions (47.7%), the report says. But students who delayed enrollment mostly attended community college — 58.5% and 63.5% of those enrolling in fall 2021 and fall 2022, respectively (see below).

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.
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