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Trends in transitioning from high school to college

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​A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center provides benchmarks for public high schools to compare their graduates’ college transition rates nationwide, including those serving low-income and minority students.

The High School Benchmarks Report: National College Progression Rates, which the center expects to release annually, includes a general breakdown according to demographics and type of postsecondary institution, including community colleges. Much of the data will not surprise community college advocates. For example, the report notes that less than a third of all enrollments from higher-income, low-minority, urban high schools attended two-year institutions, compared to almost half (44 to 45 percent) of all first fall enrollments of graduates from low-income schools. On persistence, the report says that students who attended four-year institutions remained in school at higher rates than students who attended community colleges.

The report, which presents postsecondary outcomes for high school graduating classes from 2010 through 2012, is based on school-level demographic and geographic characteristics. It covers high schools graduating more than 2.3 million students over three years, or about a quarter of all U.S. high schools' graduates each year, from all 50 states.

Report findings for the class of 2012, include:

  • 70 percent of graduates from higher-income, low-minority, urban high schools enrolled in college in fall 2012; the highest rate for all 2012 public high school graduates.
  • Higher-income, rural schools had the next highest 2012 college fall enrollment rate at 65 percent.
  • The fall 2012 college enrollment rate was 62 percent for higher-income, high-minority, urban schools.
  • Students from low-income schools had lower college enrollment rates, ranging from 50 percent for students from low-income, rural schools to 55 percent for students from low-income, low-minority, urban schools.

The report also includes college enrollment rates for both the first and second year after high school graduation, as well as persistence from the first to second year of college.

The next report from the center, which is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse, will be its sixth Signature Report, an annual report on the national college completion rate, to be released next month.

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