Report from NSBA’s Center for Public Education Finds Most Graduates Going to College


Last month, a new report by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA), Center for Public Education (CPE) stating that most new high school graduates do in fact phase into either a two or four year college.

The report, The Path Least Taken: A Quest to Learn More About High School Graduates Who Don’t Go on to College, shows data stating that only 21% of high school graduates opt not to attend college right away. The number of students not attending college once they reach ages 20 to 26 drops to 12% showing the gap narrowing even more.

The study was conducted to determine how large the non college attending group really was, taking the usual focus off of the career and college preparedness of those students that are pursuing higher education.

Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director, said of the report, “We must expand our conversations about college and career readiness. Both non college-going and college-going students require access to a rigorous education and student supports to be truly prepared for the future success after high school.”

The CPE report relied upon portions of the data included in the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES’s) Education Longitudinal Study (ELS: 2002). Areas reviewed in regards to the new graduates that chose not to attend college were academic readiness and the characteristics and expectations of the students.

“In examining the academic courses taken by college and non college-goers, on average non college enrollees took fewer and less rigorous academic courses than their college-going peers,” commented Jim Hull, author of the report and CPE’s Senior Policy Analyst. “With the findings of this report policymakers, school leaders, and educators will be better positioned to serve the education and support needs of all students, college-going and non college-going.”

The big picture that is presented through this report is one that shows only a small percentage of new high school graduates opting to never attend college, the need for high schools to improve the preparation of students to become life-long learners and ultimately that an increase in the amount of student support given is needed. The NSBA is hoping that by working on these areas the gap between student aspiration and their ability to attain their goals will be bridged.

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