8 Years After Millennials Graduated High School, Here's What Has Happened to Us


The news: The United States Department of Education has released the results of its longitudinal study on high school sophomores in 2002. And though that might not sound like the most fascinating thing in the world, it does offer an interesting look at where millennials have ended up, some eight years after graduating high school.

This new report follows the original study from 2002, which "tracks the educational and developmental experiences of a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores in the United States," and provides an update on the participants eight years after they left high school. Simply, this shows how millennials grew up.

Of course, this being a study from the Department of Education and all, the focus is on educational attainment and careers, and it gives clear insight into how millennials fared through the Great Recession.

The study found that a majority of millennials (63%) were working for pay, another 19% were working for pay and enrolled in some sort of postsecondary education, and 5% were only taking classes. But 13% were jobless and out of school, nearly twice the current rate of unemployment for the general U.S. population. 

Like other studies have reported, millennials as a generation are very well educated. A Pew poll in 2010 said that millennials "probably will be the most educated [generation] in American history." The Dept. of Education’s study found that one-third of millennials had a bachelor's degree or higher eight years after high school and another 9% had an associate's degree. Another one-third, roughly, had been to college but had not yet graduated, and 13% had only a high school diploma. The study found that only 3% of millennials had less than a high school diploma.

With post-high school education, though, comes student loans. One-fifth owed between $10,000 and $25,000, 13% owed between $25,000 and $50,000, and 11% had more than $50,000 in student loans.

Really, though, most millennials have heard this before: we're over-educated and underemployed, and a good chunk of us owe money for that schooling. We don't need a study to tell us this, we're living it.