Getting to the Goal

Businesses have a need for skilled, well-educated employees.
For the St. Louis region to be competitive, we must emphasize the importance of post-secondary education. We need to make sure students are prepared for training programs, job readiness programs, and our colleges and universities.”
— Kathy Osborn Executive Director, The Regional Business Council

 

Why Degree Completion Is Important

  • Adults with degrees earn more. In the St. Louis region, an adult with a bachelor’s degree has median earnings 40% higher than an adult with a high school diploma alone and 17% higher than one with some college or an associate’s degree. 
  • More jobs require a postsecondary degree. By 2018, 59% of all jobs in MIssouri will require some form of postsecondary education, according to the Lumina Foundation.
  • People with a postsecondary degree are less likely to be unemployed or underemployed. between 2005 and 2009, the average unemployment rate for those in St. Louis with a bachelor's degree or higher was 2.7% compared to 8% for those with a high school diploma.
  • Greater education levels make for a stronger regional economy. Nationally, the metropolitan areas among the top 10 in degree completion are also the top 10 in median household income. According to CEOs for Cities, every one percentage point increase in adult four-year college degree attainment adds an additional $763 to per capita income per year.

What It Takes to Succeed

Research has identified six components to helping students prepare for and succeed in college.

  1. Setting college as a goal – the first step starts with you!
  2. Rigorous academic preparation, particularly in writing and math.
  3. Attending a high school with a college-going culture.
  4. Understanding how to navigate the process, including FAFSA completion and college applications.
  5. Having access to adequate financial resources.
  6. Having the social, academic and financial support to persist to graduation once enrolled in college.

 

It's important to note that academic success and the ability to persist through the college access pipeline rely heavily on students developing "social-emotional" skills.  These are skills such as being able to navigate risk and opportunity, goal setting, communication, collaborative problem solving and responsible decision-making, in addition to being able to demonstrate broader attributes like connectedness with their community.


 

In the next decade, 90% of all jobs will require education beyond high school, yet only 25% of the population earns a four-year college degree. Students admitted to quality trade and technical colleges need significant academic preparation in math, science and literacy. The workplace of the future will require academically prepared individuals with postsecondary degrees, whether the employee is a technician or a physician."

— Stan Shoun

President, Ranken Technical College

An Action Plan for St. Louis

In 2010-2011, nearly 70 higher education professionals, K-12 educators, guidance counselors, service providers, business leaders and funders came together to develop a community-focused plan to increase the proportion of adults with a college degree to 50% by 2020.

The St. Louis region’s community plan includes 11 strategies organized around the  components that research shows are critical to helping low-income and first-generation students succeed in completing a post-secondary education. The executive summary outlines the strategies.


Where We Stand

 

The St. Louis region can only grow if we have a talented workforce to meet the demand for employees with technical skills and problem-solving abilities. We need all students to make a plan for continuing their education beyond high school — and we need the resources in place to support them every step of the way.” — Ward Klein Chief Executive Officer, Energizer Holdings, Inc.
and Chair of St. Louis Civic Progress Education Committee

The St. Louis metropolitan area had the largest percentage point increase in postsecondary degree completion in the country between 2007 and 2010. As of 2010, 37.8 % of adults 25-and-older have a postsecondary degree.

However, African American degree attainment has not kept pace with the population overall, and disparities exist within the St. Louis region, with lesser degree attainment in North St. Louis City, North St. Louis County and Lincoln/Warren/Franklin counties.

Completion of the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid that is required for most financial aid, is up 44.5 %.

There are many barriers students face in trying to access education beyond high school.

  • Family income is the single biggest barrier. In 2005, only 30% of students from households with incomes less than $30,000 were either in college or had already graduated, compared to 42% of those from households with incomes between $30,000 and $49,999, and 82% for those with family incomes over $100,000.
  • Being first in the family to consider postsecondary education. Approximately 70% of students whose parents have no college experience graduate within six years of enrollment, compared to 79% of students whose parents have a college degree. In 2011, half of the parents who competed FAFSA forms in the St. Louis region reported having no college education.

Guidance counselors and college access programs are essential to students navigating college for the first time in their family.

  • The St. Louis region has seen an increase in college access services available to low-income students. In 2008, approximately one-third of low-income students had access to supplemental college access services. In 2011, approximately two-thirds of students do.
  • While the number of services has increased, those that do exist appear to be unevenly distributed across the region.