Indiana High School Students College-Going Rate Shows No Improvement

In Indiana, the proportion of high school seniors proceeding directly to college has plateaued, the latest figures from state authorities reveal.

Fresh statistics for the Class of 2022 disclosed by the Indiana Commission of Higher Education (CHE) on Thursday indicated a continuation, for the third consecutive year, of only 53% of Hoosier graduates pursuing further education through certification training, a two-year program, or enrollment in a four-year college.

This marks a 6% decline from the 2019 cohort and a 12% drop from 2015.

However, despite the constant college-going rate of 53%, with the total number of 2022 high school graduates rising by 3%, there are actually fewer students enrolling in postsecondary education immediately after high school.

“While the college-going rate held steady at 53%, there was a decrease in the number of new students enrolling from our headcount perspective,” voiced Brooke Kile, the associate commissioner for business intelligence.

At the commission’s bi-monthly meeting on Thursday, CHE staff unveiled initial data, with the official numbers for 2022 slated for release next week.

The rate, termed “dismal” by assorted state lawmakers and education officials, persists as Indiana’s lowest college-going pattern in recent memory, though the decline had already set in several years before.

CHE defines the college-going rate as the percentage of students enrolling in a postsecondary institution within a year after high school graduation.

Per the 2022 statistics, 47% of students who pursued Career and Technical Education (CTE) training during high school transitioned to further postsecondary coursework.

Nonetheless, among these CTE students, Kile pointed out Indiana’s existing access gaps within various demographic segments.

Of those who took CTE courses, about 70% of Asian students and 48% of White students moved on to college, as per the commission’s data. In contrast, 44% of Black students and 41% of Hispanic and Latino students pursued education after completing high school.

Moreover, she highlighted that male students are increasingly opting out of postsecondary education, while Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars display a robust college-going rate, with 81% of scholars in the 2022 cohort advancing to postsecondary education compared to 59% of non-scholar students.

Continuing, CHE officials observed a novel trend among the Class of 2022 as more students heading to college are opting for out-of-state schools, with 27% enrolling in Indiana’s public four-year institutions, followed by 10% in public two-year institutions, and 8% in private colleges.

An additional 8% ventured to schools outside Indiana, the highest out-of-state enrollment percentage seen in several years, as Indiana’s college-going rates only held steady due to the surge in out-of-state enrollment.

While presenting the data, Kile remarked, “One year doesn’t establish a trend, so we aren’t necessarily raising the alarm. Nonetheless, we are examining early indicator data from the 2023 and 2024 cohorts, scrutinizing attendance patterns, to assess if we need initiatives to retain more students in Indiana.”

Furthermore, during the same event, a data update on the Class of 2021 was provided, indicating that 51% of the 2021 cohort who enrolled in a postsecondary program within a year after high school graduation met all three early college success benchmarks.

Kile emphasized the need to continue efforts in enhancing postsecondary enrollment, outlining ongoing initiatives, including increased support from the Frank O’Bannon grant, pre-admission letters, automatic enrollment for 21st Century Scholars, and added incentives for prioritizing low-income youth and adult enrollment.

Moreover, she noted the expansion of Indiana College Core offerings, emphasizing its importance in indicating college attendance, and highlighted a new law mandating accessibility of College Core courses to high schoolers statewide and the introduction of three-year degree programs at most Indiana colleges and universities by July 2025.

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