Educational Status & Attainment


Older Men Educational Status & Attainment Variables

Because the Older Men had already been in the work force for a number of years, schooling was not a major focus for this cohort. The surveys collected basic data on educational attainment, but detailed questions like those asked of the Young Men were not included. In addition to the respondent-specific data, schooling and educational attainment variables are available for select survey years for household members and children of Older Men.

Most information was gathered during the initial survey. Information was collected during 1966 on the highest grade that each respondent had attended and whether that grade had been completed. Follow-up questions, also asked during the 1966 survey, gathered information on whether respondents had been enrolled in a vocational or commercial curriculum during high school, and if so, the primary type of training, e.g., secretarial, bookkeeping, mechanics, woodworking, etc., that they had received. Finally, a created variable reporting each respondent's highest grade completed is available in 1966.

Some additional data were collected in later surveys of the Older Men. The state in which respondents last attended high school was identified during the 1971 survey. The 1976 interviews gathered information on the highest grade of school that had been completed, the year of graduation from high school, the year last attended college, whether or not a college degree had been received and, if so, the type of highest college degree earned ("associate," "bachelors," "masters," "Ph.D./LL.B./M.D./etc."). College enrollment during the past year was measured at four survey points: 1973, 1975, 1978, and 1980.

Survey Instruments & Documentation: The sets of variables described above are found in a variety of questionnaire sections:  The "Education and Training" section of the 1966 questionnaire, the "Family Background" section of the 1971 instrument, the "Marital History and Other Background" section of the 1976 questionnaire and the household roster sections of the 1973, 1975, 1978, and 1980 instruments. Appendices within each cohort's Codebook Supplement present the fields of study classification systems and Census division/state codes.

Young Men Educational Status & Attainment Variables

Due to the fact that schooling, particularly the school-to-work transition process, was a primary focus of the surveys of the Young Men, questions on education were fielded more frequently and the data collection was more comprehensive than with the Older Men. Commonly used educational status and attainment variables available for Young Men respondents are summarized by subject area below. Descriptions of the various standardized test scores available for respondents in the Young Men cohort can be found in the Aptitude, Achievement, & Intelligence Scores section. Data from the separately administered school survey and the constructed college variables are described in the High School & College Surveys section.

Current School Enrollment Status

Enrollment Status--Is R Currently Enrolled? Asked during each survey year.

Grade Attending. For those attending regular school, data were collected during each survey year on the specific grade within elementary/high school or the year of college he was attending.

Educational Attainment

Highest Grade Completed as of XX--Revised. A series of edited educational attainment variables were created by survey staff for the first nine survey years (1966-76). These are summary variables, available for most respondents, in which each respondent's record has been longitudinally edited and crosschecked against information gathered during other years. Derivations for most of these revised variables appear within the codebook. Post-1976 highest grade completed variables provide update information for only those respondents attending school since the date of last interview. The User Notes section includes a discussion of these variables.

Date of Diploma. Information on the month and year that a high school diploma was received was collected in 1976 for those respondents who had completed high school but who had never been enrolled in college.

Ever Attended College. A single question fielded in 1981, the last interview, provides summary information for those respondents not currently attending college (or who reported that they had attended since the last interview) on whether they had ever attended a college or university.

Type of College Degree. The information collected in 1966 on type of college degree ("associate," "bachelors," "masters," "doctorate") was updated during each survey year except 1976 for those respondents who received a degree since the previous interview. The 1976 interview provides information on the highest degree ever received for those in at least the second year of college.

School Experiences

High School Experiences. The 1966 survey fielded a set of questions designed to assess each respondent's overall high school experiences. The high school series included questions on (1) whether or not a respondent participated in extracurricular activities, the number of hours per week and favorite activity (e.g., sports, music, other clubs, etc.); (2) number of hours per week he spent on homework, where he studied, and if there were distractions to his homework efforts; (3) which high school subjects he liked most/least and the reasons; (4) the kinds of non-school-related activities that took up most of his time (e.g., sports, working for pay, a hobby, etc.); and (5) the respondent's general attitude toward his high school years.

College Experiences. A similar set of 1966 questions assessed the respondent's overall college experiences. This series collected information on (1) how he felt about his college experience; (2) the field of study liked most/least and the reasons; and (3) for those respondents currently enrolled who would like more education, information was collected on how many years of education he would like to complete, how much education he thought he would actually get, what college he would like to attend, and what field he would like to study.

Comparable sets of questions were asked of respondents in the Young Women cohort. Information collected on the names and locations of up to four colleges was used in construction of the college survey variables; see the "High School & College Surveys" section of this guide for more information.

High School & College Curricula

Type of High School Curriculum. Type of high school curriculum, i.e., "vocational," "commercial," "college preparatory," or "general," in which a respondent was enrolled during his last year of high school was collected during the initial 1966 interview. These data were updated during the 1967-71 surveys for respondents enrolled in school during those years.

Type of College Curriculum. Information on the type of college curriculum that respondents were pursuing is available for the 1967-71 survey years. The universe for this series is those respondents currently attending college. Coding categories are the same as those used for the 'Field of Study' variables.

Field of Study. Data collected in 1966 on the area of concentration of respondents' most recent college degree were updated during subsequent interviews for those who received a degree between survey dates. A series of variables were created that summarize the field of study of respondent's most recent undergraduate/graduate college degree as of the 1966-71 interviews. The 1976 questionnaire asked those respondents enrolled in at least the second year of college for information on the field of study of highest college degree received. The classification system(s) utilized through 1975 included such disciplines as the "Humanities," "Education," "Mathematics," "Business/Commerce," "Social Science," "Science," "Law" while the post-1975 field of study schema were expanded to include such fields as "Computer & Information Sciences," "Health Professions," "Public Affairs and Services," as well as specific disciplines leading to an associate degree, e.g., "Mechanical & Engineering Technologies," "Health Services and Paramedical Technologies," etc.

College Financial Information

Tuition. Full-time annual tuition amounts were collected during 1966 for the most recent college attended and during 1967-71 and 1976 for the college the respondent was attending that year.

Financial Aid. Comprehensive information on financial aid received in connection with college attendance was gathered during all surveys except 1973 and 1975. Data are available on whether a respondent enrolled in college received financial assistance, the type(s) (scholarship, assistantship, loan, GI Bill, etc.), and, for most years, the dollar amount. Users should note that the set of financial aid questions fielded during most survey years as part of the "Assets and Income" section, i.e., whether relatives provided financial aid, which relative(s), and the dollar amount received, did not have as their universe only those respondents attending college.

Type and Location of Schools

Is School Public? Information on whether the current or last school attended was public or private was collected during the 1966-71, 1976, and 1981 surveys.

Census Division of School Currently or Last Attended. Census division of last high school attended is provided for the 1966 interview. This information was updated during all but the 1978 and 1980 survey years for the school the respondent was currently attending.

Comparison of Residence While in High School with Current Residence & with College Location. A series of comparison variables have been created for the 1966-70 survey years that provide information on whether the respondent resided in that year within the same or different county, state, or Census division as that in which his high school or college was located. A second set of variables is present for 1966, 1973, and 1975 that compares the location of, for example, the most recent college attended with other colleges attended. The User Notes section contains a cautionary note on the address information used to construct these variables.

Presence & Type of Accredited Two- & Four-Year Colleges in Labor Market of Current Residence. A discrete set of variables was created for the 1966 survey year that provide information on whether there existed within the respondent's labor market various types of colleges, e.g., two-year public colleges, four-year women's colleges, both public and private four-year colleges, etc.

User Notes

Variables that depend upon address information have been created by Census in an inconsistent manner. The majority of geographic variables were revised in the mid-1970s to correct for known discrepancies in permanent versus temporary address data. However, certain variables, including the 'Comparison of School Locations with Location of Current Residence' and 'Presence and Type of Accredited Two- and Four-Year Colleges in Labor Market of Current Residence,' were not updated. A more complete discussion can be found in the User Notes in the Geographic Residence & Environmental Characteristics section of this guide.

Educational Attitudes & Expectations

As discussed under School Experiences above, in 1966 a series of questions asked respondents to report their overall attitude toward their high school and college, as well as their favorite and least liked courses. In addition, during five subsequent surveys, Young Men respondents who were still enrolled were asked to report their overall attitude toward school and explain any change relative to the previous survey.

Because the Young Men's survey was developed to examine the transition from school to work, significant effort was devoted to collecting information on future educational plans. From 1966 to 1976, questions were asked about the respondent's goal for his completed education (categories range from less than high school to 7 or more years of college), the actual amount of education he expected to receive, and the reason for any change in his educational plans between surveys. For generational comparisons, the respondent's report of his parents' goal for his education was collected in 1971 and the respondent's perception of parental and teacher encouragement for educational goals was gathered in three surveys. Table YM1 provides the reference numbers for these data and indicates universe limitations as applicable.

Table YM1. Summary of Information on Educational Plans

  Survey Year
Question 66 67 68 69 70 71 76
Respondent's educational goal1 R00154. R00584. R00699. R01103.50 R01227. R01648.50 R01809. R02209.50 R02394. R02968.50 R03116. R03835. R04440.
Comparison of current year's goal to goal at last interview   R00700. R01228. R01810.   R03118.  
Reason for change in goal2   R00701. R01229. R01811. R02396. R03119.  
Actual educational level expected       R01812. R02395. R03117. R04441.
Parents' goal for resp. at age 14           R03121.  
Encouragement from parents/teachers         R02397. R02398. R02400. R03123. R03124. R03126. R04443. R04444. R04446.
1 Enrolled respondents only
2 Asked only of respondents whose educational goal changed between surveys

In addition to these general aspiration and expectation questions, surveys between 1966 and 1976 asked a number of questions of select universes regarding dates the respondent planned to go back to high school, start college, and return to college. Respondents also reported reasons they planned to end or continue their education, as well as reasons their specific plans changed since the last interview. Finally, a series of created variables assesses the congruity of the respondent's educational goal with the educational requirements for his occupational goal.

User Notes

A commonly asked question concerns the availability of information on highest grade completed. During the initial survey years, the presence of the edited 'Highest Grade Completed' variables made the construction of an attainment variable unnecessary. The 'Highest Grade Completed' variables were the result of extensive hand-edits; they are, in some ways, a best guess made by examining the complete longitudinal record of each respondent. After the mid-70s, a series of questions was asked during each interview about whether the respondent was currently attending or had attended regular school since the last interview. If the respondent replied in the affirmative, information was gathered on the grade attending and/or completed. These variables are called "update" variables and are available for less than the full universe of respondents. CHRR suggests that researchers needing data on educational attainment for a more complete universe of respondents than those to whom the update questions are administered locate the last summary variable available and use the periodic update information to increment the created variable. In order to simplify the creation process, a global question is fielded every few years to collect information from all respondents on highest grade completed. Problems that arise as the result of data being obtained at multiple survey points will need to be resolved by the individual researcher.

Survey Instruments & Documentation: The sets of variables described above are found in a variety of questionnaire sections: "Education and Training," "High School Experiences," "College Experiences," and "Educational Goals" sections of the 1966 questionnaire and the "Educational Status" section of subsequent instruments. Appendices within each cohort's Codebook Supplement present the fields of study classification systems and Census division/state codes.