University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

College Deadlines are Looming- Who Enrolls?

In The View from the OEP on October 25, 2017 at 1:24 pm

It’s that time of year when many students across Arkansas are working on college applications. Do you know what percentage of high school graduates start their college adventure within a year of graduating high school?  Here at the OEP, we wanted to share this information and are releasing the college-going rates for Arkansas schools and districts here.

It is important to note that these percentages reflect only the students who enroll in a 2- or 4-year college in Arkansas, as no current data are publicly available that include students who attend schools beyond the state boundaries.

According to the Arkansas Department of Education, 50.5% of students headed to an Arkansas college the year following high school graduation in 2015. The data have been reported for three years, which are presented by geographic region below.

overall_CG

While it is difficult to see a trend in just three years of data, here at the OEP, we like how the in-state college-going rate is fairly consistent across all five geographic regions despite variations in the percentage of students eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch.  Despite enrolling a population that is more likely to be eligible for the FRL program, a similar percentage of students from the Southwest region are enrolling in college as in the Northwest region.


College-Going by Race

College-going rate is also reported by race, and we present those graphs below to examine trends in enrollment and variations by region.  In 2015-16, across Arkansas 52% of White graduates,  34% of Black graduates, and 37% of Hispanic graduates enrolled in college. It is informative to examine rates by region:  While the percentage of White and Hispanic students enrolling in college after graduation is fairly consistent throughout the state, the percentage of Black students enrolling varied from 27% in the Northwest Region to 53% in the Southeast region.

White CG

In 2015-16, across Arkansas 52% of White graduates enrolled in college. This reflected a slight decrease from 57% in 2014-15. The rates are fairly consistent across all regions, and the Southwest region has seen continuous increases in while college enrollment over the last three years.

 

Black CG

 

In 2015-16, across Arkansas 34% of Black graduates enrolled in college. This reflected a decrease from 42% in 2014-15. The percentage of Black students enrolling varied substantially across regions; from 27% in the Northwest region to 53% in the Southeast region. Although only three percent of students in Northwest Arkansas are Black, (compared to 44% of students in the Southeast), we are concerned about the low college-going rates for Black students in the northern regions.

 

Hispanic CG

 

In 2015-16, across Arkansas 37% of Hispanic graduates enrolled in college. This reflected an increase from 35% in the prior two years. The percentage of Hispanic students enrolling varied somewhat across regions; from 27% in the Southeast region to 42% in the Southwest region. The Northwest and Southwest regions enroll the largest percentage of Hispanic students (20% of enrollment and 12% of enrollment, respectively), and we are pleased to see the continuous increase in college enrollment for those from the Southwest region.


College-Going at the District Level

Although enrollment rates are fairly consistent across the regions of the state, there is large variation by district. In 2015-16, KIPP Delta had the highest in-state enrollment rate at 77%, compared to the lowest college enrollment of 18%.

According to a recent poll, 89% of parents want their student to attend college. Here at the OEP, we don’t think that all students want to go to college, or that college is the best path for all students, but we do believe that all students should have the opportunity to make the choice.

We suggest that you examine your district/school’s college-going rate and ask some questions.

Higher rates of college-enrollment may indicate:

  1. Students who may be interested in college are being well supported to complete college readiness actions, like filling out the FAFSA and completing applications.
  2. Students are being academically supported to be prepared for college.
  3. Student are being given opportunities to increase their ACT score, which can result in higher levels of financial aid.

Lower rates of college-enrollment may indicate:

  1. Students are being supported in pursuing other Career pathways (unfortunately, Arkansas does not publish information on other post-secondary choices or the number of students who complete career and technical coursework, so this would be a guess).
  2. Students who may be interested in college are not being well supported to complete college readiness actions, such as filling out the FAFSA and completing applications.

 

Additional questions about college-going rates that are important to consider:

Are all demographic groups experiencing similar rates of enrollment? (You can check this out here).  If not, why not?

Are your graduates needing remediation when they get to college? (You can find this information here in the graduation rate section).

How likely are students from your district to persist in college? We don’t have this information!  In some other states, the first-year persistence rates are reported back to the district.

You can see how projections of Arkansas college-going enrollment compare to national projections here, but in order to really understand our students, we need to use data that finds and follows our graduates wherever they go to school. Here at the OEP, we are hoping for those data to become available, in order to provide us all better information about the college-going choices and success of our high school graduates.

 

 

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