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Non-College 18-25's

Not much research has been conducted on the civic knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of young people who do not go to college. Filling this gap is an important priority for CIRCLE.

Most of what we do know is contained on CIRCLE's fact sheet entitled "Civic Engagement Among Non-College Attending 18-25 Year Olds."

We define "Non-College 18-25s" as young people who have completed 12 or fewer years of education and are not enrolled in college, and have not obtained a degree beyond a high school diploma. This group represents more than half of the youth population and is not shrinking:

Educational Attainment Among 18-24 Year Olds
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Voter Turnout

Over the past 30 years, voter turnout for non-college 18-24 year old young people has declined, though generally not as sharply as that for young people with a bachelor's degree or higher. In 2000, voter turnout among those with a bachelor's degree was approximately 70 percent, while voter turnout among those with less than a high school diploma was 20 percent, a 50-percentage point gap.

Voter Turnout by Educational Attainment
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Voter Registration

Voter registration among non-college 18-24s has changed little over the last 30 years, though voter registration has fallen among 18-24 year olds with some college. In 2000, approximately 34 percent of non-college 18-24 year olds without a high school diploma were registered to vote, compared to a registration rate of 84 percent among 18-24 year olds with a college degree.

Voter Registration by Educational Attainment
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Turnout Among Registered Voters, by Educational Attainment

Among registered voters, 18-24 year olds with a college degree are still most likely to vote, but the gap between college degree holders and those with less than a high school diploma is reduced to a 20-percentage point differential. Also, there has been a general decline in voter turnout among registered voters. Between 1972 and 2000, voter turnout is down 10 percentage points across all groups. In 2000, voter turnout among less than high school 18-24 year olds and high school diploma only 18-24 year olds was approximately 60 percent. For those with a college degree and who were registered to vote, voter turnout was 80 percent in 2000.

Turnout Among Registered Voters, by Educational Attainment
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Caveats

There are several cautions one should be aware of when reviewing the graphs on this Webpage. First, these results are for U.S. citizens only. Second, the "Less than HS" category contains students who are between the ages of 18-25 but currently enrolled in high school. Thus, their eventual level of education attainment is unknown. (Data from the 2000 Current Population Survey suggests that about one fifth of the "Less than HS" sample is currently enrolled in high school.)