College enrollment rates continue to be lowest among high school graduates from low-income and high-minority schools, according to the second annual High School Benchmarks Report from the National Student Clearinghouse.
The report examines postsecondary outcomes for the high school graduating classes from 2010 through 2013, including those at public, private, and charter schools around the country at various socio-economic levels.
Poverty level, determined by the proportion of free- or reduced-lunch-eligible students, was the “most consistent correlate” of college enrollment among the three types of schools examined for the class of 2013. For example, the highest college enrollment rate across six low-income groups included in the report was 58 percent, compared to the lowest college enrollment rate among the higher income graduates at 61 percent.
According to the report, high school graduates from high-income, low-minority, suburban schools had the highest immediate fall college enrollment rate at 73 percent, while graduates from low-income schools had rates of 58 percent or less, depending on location and minority populations.
When broken down by the type of institution students are attending immediately after graduating high school, the Clearinghouse found that one in five students from higher-income, low-minority, suburban schools enroll in private institutions. Students from these high schools also enrolled in out-of-state colleges at rates between 11 percent and 23 percent, compared to only 9 percent to 13 percent for their low-income counterparts.
Between 26 percent and 31 percent of graduates from low-income high schools enroll in four-year schools, compared with 33 percent to 51 percent of high-income graduates. Enrollment at two-year institutions was much higher for graduates of low-income high schools and those from higher income, high-minority schools – between 44 percent and 49 percent. In comparison, gradates from high-income, low-minority schools made up less than one-third of two-year institutions’ enrollment.
Enrollment rates “increased markedly” across all groups when all enrollments within the first year after graduation were accounted for, rather than just first-fall enrollments, according to the report. The increases were similar regardless of school income and were driven largely by enrollment at two-year institutions, which have more flexible start times than four-year schools.
The data shows that 65 percent of graduates from low-income high schools enrolled in college within two years of completing high school, compared to around 50 percent for students who enrolled immediately after high school.
“These results show that while the incremental college-going rate dramatically decreases one year after high school graduation, students continue enrolling in colleges and universities beyond the first year,” according to the report.
When examining the rates of persistence for the first two years of college, the data showed high rates overall among the high school graduating class of 2011 – between 75 percent and 89 percent. However, graduates of high-income high schools had higher rates of persistence than those from low-income schools, and those enrolled in four-year institutions had higher rates than those in two-year institutions.
Publication Date: 10/16/2014