New Infographic From Gates Foundation Reveals America as 100 College Students

Posted By Eliana Osborn on May 20, 2016 at 11:30 am
New Infographic From Gates Foundation Reveals America as 100 College Students

A new infographic from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does a great job of quickly showing how diverse today’s college population is. Often times there is a stereotype of what a typical college student means: 18, living on campus, attending full-time. Numbers from a wide variety of research backed sources show that this perception simply isn’t true.

Gates Foundation graphic of the make up of college student today

Source: Gates Foundation

Since its inception, GoodCall has been highlighting the faces and challenges of what higher education really looks like. To find out more about student makeup in each category, click on links for in-depth reporting.

More women attending college

More women than men attend college; 56% vs. 44%. This impacts everything from Title IX compliance to discrimination in traditionally male-dominated fields. The gender pay gap after graduation continues, despite similar degrees and qualifications.

Enrollment and working students

College students have to work to get by; 26% work full-time, 36% part-time. Fully 37% of students only enroll in a part-time level of credits, primarily because of work needs.

Financial aid needs

39% receive Pell grants, available based on family income levels. Money problems are a driving cause of low graduation rates and student stress. Campuses are working to address emergency financial situations through a variety of means, especially crucial to the 47% of students over the age of 22. College students with children of their own are another growing segment, making up 22% of the total, where finances are stretched even tighter.

Four-year, two-year and online classes

60% of college students attend four-year schools, while 40% are at two-year institutions. The 41% who live on-campus are primarily full-time students on four-year campuses, of the traditional 17-21 age bracket. 73% of enrollees don’t take any online classes at all, with 13% only doing web courses.


Diversity on college campuses has been a major news issue. 15% of students today are Black, 17% are Hispanic, 7% are Asian/Pacific Islander, 58% are white, 1% are American Indian/Alaska Native, and 3% identify as two or more races. What’s more, underrepresented groups continue to grow in representation.

Along with the numbers breakdown, the Gates Foundation released stories of real life students who put faces to the statistics. Twenty-two individuals from each of the demographics explored above are available to learn more about. As the Foundation explains, “With more students of color, as well as students with full-time jobs and families seeking degrees, higher education institutions must adapt to meet the evolving needs of their students. More and more institutions are piloting and implementing new models in an effort to educate more students more effectively, in a shorter amount of time, at a lower cost, and with career-relevant skills.” As time goes on, policy makers will be able to see what changes are effective at making college work for all students.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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