What does this indicator measure?
This indicator measures the percentage of people over age 25 with a bachelor's education or higher.
The connection to health
Everyone should have the opportunity to seek higher education and go to college if they choose. A college education is essential for many higher-paying careers, and it also helps people develop the cognitive skills and knowledge necessary to make healthy choices. A college education can also build important social and physiological skills. Education in general is linked to positive health outcomes including increased life expectancy and reduced chronic disease rates, as well as negative health outcomes including infant mortality. Higher education, including having some college education and bachelor’s degree or higher, are linked with even better health outcomes and higher incomes. College graduates are more likely to find quality jobs with living wages and decent working conditions. Higher learning contributes to overall knowledge and cognition, and students learn social and physiological skills including problem solving, teamwork, self-control, social support, and life skills. College graduation rates vary across California, and the nation, reflecting historic and often persistent funding inequities in places with fewer resources and social power, such as African American/Black, Latino, working class communities, and those with low-English proficiency.91, 92
Where to start?
Improving the percentage of people attending and graduating college requires policies that encourage student success during college, as well as in the years leading up to college.
To support existing college students, jurisdictions should Make College More Affordable by helping students overcome the financial barriers to higher education through financial aid, incentivized savings, and policies that lower housing costs and improve economic sufficiency. They should also Improve Student Retention by providing academic and social supports to keep students on track—especially in their transitional first year. Community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities should Improve Pathways to Success by structuring curriculum, classes, and schedules to guide students in meeting their academic goals.
Longer term, jurisdictions can focus on the pipeline of students in high school and early childhood education. Perhaps the most fundamental action that local jurisdictions can take to improve educational outcomes is to Ensure Equitable Resource Distribution, to help reverse current inequities and ensure that all California students have the support they need to graduate. This is especially important for young children, as studies show that learning opportunities in early years are crucial for academic success. To help kids get a head start, local jurisdictions and districts should Create Opportunities for Early Learning. They should also Foster Community, Parent, and Youth Participation. Engaged communities and families ensure that education systems are responsive, relevant, powerful, and integrated with broader community transformation initiatives.
Quality teaching and social supports are also important ingredient in successful educational systems. Local jurisdictions should Provide Academic and Social Support, especially for children who may fall behind. These supports are an essential tool in closing gaps in educational success for students of color, low-income students, and others. Educational success also depends on attracting, retaining, and supporting quality educators and leaders, so local jurisdictions should Train and Support Educators. They should also Improve Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment to ensure that every student has access to a full range of opportunities.
Students learn best when schools are healthy and safe. Local jurisdictions and schools should work to Improve Student Health through healthy food, physical activity, safety and other supports. They should also Create a Safe and Supportive School Climate, which has been linked to improved emotional behavioral and emotional outcomes.