College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2016 High School Graduates Technical Note

Technical Note

   The estimates in this release were obtained from a supplement to the October 2016
Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of about 60,000 eligible households
that provides information on the labor force, employment, and unemployment for the nation.
The survey is conducted monthly for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Census
Bureau. Data in this release relate to the school enrollment status of persons 16 to 24
years of age in the civilian noninstitutional population in the calendar week that
includes the 12th of October. Updated population controls for the CPS are introduced
annually with the release of January data. Additional information about population
controls is available on the BLS website at

   Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals
upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.
Reliability of the estimates

   Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. When
a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there is a chance that the
sample estimates may differ from the true population values they represent. The component
of this difference that occurs because samples differ by chance is known as sampling error,
and variability is measured by the standard error, and variability is measured by the
standard error of the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence,
that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from
the true population value because of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally conducted
at the 90-percent level of confidence.

   The CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error can occur for
many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the population, inability to
obtain information for all respondents in the sample, inability or unwillingness of
respondents to provide correct information, and errors made in the collection or
processing of the data.

   Additional information about the reliability of data from the CPS and estimating
standard errors is available at


   The principal concepts used in connection with the school enrollment series are described
briefly below.

   School enrollment. Respondents were asked whether they were currently enrolled in a
regular school, including day or night school in any type of public, parochial, or other
private school. Regular schooling is that which may advance a person toward a high school
diploma or a college, university, or professional degree. Such schools include elementary
schools, junior or senior high schools, and colleges and universities.

   Other schooling, including trade schools; on-the-job training; and courses that do not
require physical presence in school, such as correspondence courses or other courses of
independent study, is included only if the credits granted count towards promotion in
regular school.

   Full-time and part-time enrollment in college. College students are classified as
attending full time if they were taking 12 hours of classes or more (or 9 hours of
graduate classes) during an average school week and as part time if they were taking
fewer hours.

   High school graduation status. Persons who were not enrolled in school at the time of
the survey were asked whether they had graduated from high school. Those who had graduated
were asked when they completed their high school education. Persons who had not graduated,
that is, school dropouts, were asked when they last attended a regular school. Those who
were enrolled in college at the time of the survey also were asked when they graduated
from high school.

   Recent high school graduates. Persons who completed high school in the calendar year
of the survey (January through October) are recent high school graduates.

   Recent high school dropouts. Persons who were not enrolled in school at the time of
the survey, attended school a year earlier, and did not have a high school diploma are
recent dropouts.

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Last Modified Date: November 17, 2017