The New Forgotten Half and Research Directions to Support Them 

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Thirty years ago fully half of America’s high school graduates chose to forgo post-secondary education. These 16- to 24-year-olds–the Forgotten Half–faced greater challenges along “the passage to adulthood”, including diminished career prospects and greater economic instability. In this 2015 paper, researchers at the William T. Grant Foundation revisit the Forgotten Half and find that its composition has changed. In the era of “college for all”, the New Forgotten Half is comprised of students who started college but failed to earn a credential, and, like their predecessors, these students are more likely to be from low-income backgrounds. They are also more likely to attend community college. This publication provides an in-depth analysis of the Forgotten Half’s demographics and the challenges they face, and makes several recommendations for future inquiry.