This study examines the postsecondary education and employment pathways of Minnesota public high school graduates one year after graduation. It also reviews their college certificate and degree attainment and employment outcomes six years after graduation.

The researchers analyzed data from the Minnesota Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System, provided by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. The study’s results are expected to provide a foundation for the development of a longer-term research agenda focused on the college and career readiness of Minnesota public high school graduates.

The study explored three research questions:

  1. What percentage of 2008–15 Minnesota public high school graduates transitioned from high school to employment, college, or a combination of employment and college within one year of high school graduation?
  2. What was the highest college certificate or degree attained by 2008–10 Minnesota public high school graduates six years after high school graduation?
  3. What percentage of 2008–10 Minnesota public high school graduates were employed six years after high school graduation? What were their annual earnings?

The findings from the first research question focused on students’ initial postsecondary pathways. They were disaggregated by the rurality of students’ high schools and by student gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, and disability status. The findings from the second research question focused on college certificate and degree attainment. The third research question focused on employment and annual earnings. They were disaggregated by initial postsecondary pathway, by the rurality of students’ high schools, and by student gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, English proficiency, and disability status.


Major Findings & Recommendations

The study highlighted the following:

  • Within one year of graduation, 92 percent of graduates were enrolled in college or employed. Initial postsecondary pathways varied by student characteristics but not by high school rurality.
  • Within one year of graduation, graduates with disabilities, graduates with limited English proficiency, Hispanic graduates, and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates were the most likely to be neither employed nor enrolled in college.
  • Six years after graduation, 48 percent of graduates had not attained a college certificate or degree, 37 percent had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, 11 percent had attained an associate’s degree, and 4 percent had attained a college certificate.
  • Six years after graduation, 71 percent of graduates were employed, and their median annual earnings were $22,717.
  • Six years after graduation, there were differences in college certificate and degree attainment, employment, and median annual earnings by student characteristics, even among graduates who followed the same initial postsecondary pathway.

The results of this study suggest several considerations for policymakers and practitioners in Minnesota to consider including the following:

  1. High schools might consider expanding access to college readiness opportunities such as college preparation courses and college counseling for racial/ethnic minority students, economically disadvantaged students, students with limited English proficiency, and students with disabilities.
  2. High schools might consider directing more intensive resources such as early college and career planning to students who are most at risk during the transition to postsecondary education and employment, including graduates with disabilities, graduates with limited English proficiency, Hispanic graduates, and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates.
  3. High schools could share information with students about the earnings of past cohorts of students and about how earnings differed across postsecondary pathways.
  4. Colleges might consider opportunities to better support these students while they are in college.