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Pathways to Graduate School: An Empirical Study Based on National Longitudinal Data

Hilton, Thomas L.; Schrader, William B.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
GREB-82-21R (1987), RR-87-41
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Career Choice College Bound Students Graduate Record Examinations Board Graduate Study Longitudinal Studies National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS) Student Characteristics


The data analysis relied primarily on the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972, in which a national probability sample of approximately 22,500 high school seniors was surveyed in 1972 and then resurveyed approximately every two years until 1979. Analysis of data from a survey of 1980 high school seniors provided data on the initial post-high school choices of a recent cohort. The data analysis indicated that by 1979, 3% of the 1972 high school seniors had enrolled full time in graduate school, and 3% had enrolled full time in professional school; students reaching graduate or professional school tended to enroll in more demanding high school academic programs and were noticeably more likely to enroll first in four-year colleges after high school graduation; the distribution of males and females in the pathways and their educational attainment were similar, except that appreciably fewer females enrolled in professional schools; almost as high a proportion of Black students as of White students enrolled initially in four-year colleges, but a lower proportion received bachelor's degrees; students reaching graduate school tended to show approximately the same pattern of choices as students reaching professional school; the professional school students had somewhat higher test scores and educational aspirations, although the differences were small; many uncertainties precluded predictions about their absolute numbers, but it is likely that the proportion of future postbaccalaureate students who are female and the proportions from minority populations will be appreciably higher.

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