The Journal Gazette
Thursday, April 04, 2019 1:00 am

State's college-bound rate slips

Area universities see growth, preparedness

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The percentage of Indiana high school graduates bound for college continues to decline, but those seeking a degree are generally prepared for the coursework, with many students enrolling with credits already earned, according to a new report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

“One of the challenges facing higher education and reflected in this report is the decline in enrollment over recent years. Declining birth rates will impact enrollment patterns in the future, too,” said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana's commissioner for higher education, in a statement.

The 2019 College Readiness Report found that 63% of 2017 graduates went directly to college, down from 64% in 2016 and 65% in 2015.

Locally, the commission reported, the percentage of college-bound students varied: 54% from Fort Wayne Community Schools, 63% from East Allen County Schools, 78% from Northwest Allen County Schools and 81% from Southwest Allen County Schools.

The national average is 67%, the commission said.

The statewide decline hasn't affected Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“Rather, last fall we experienced an 11.9% increase in new student enrollment, and we are anticipating further growth in new students in the fall 2019 class,” said Carl Drummond, vice chancellor for academic affairs and enrollment management, by email.

“We believe these gains have been achieved because we offer outstanding academic programs, a generous financial aid program, and an institutional commitment to student success,” he added.

About 46% of the 2017 high school graduates enrolled in a public state college. While Ivy Tech Community College was the most popular statewide, Purdue Fort Wayne was a top choice among Allen County students, according to the commission.

The majority of college-bound students pursued a bachelor's degree (69%), many earned college credit in high school (64%), and most didn't need remediation in college (88%), the study found.

John Shannon, vice president for academic affairs at Trine University, has noticed that students are entering college better prepared.

“Trine University has raised its academic criteria from what it was in past years, and yet our student body continues to grow, so we (know) that our students have higher credentials coming in,” Shannon said by email. “Anecdotally it seems that they are transferring in more dual enrollment credits than ever before, as well.”

Other findings included the following:

• Those earning more rigorous diplomas were more likely to attend college.

• 86% of students participating in the 21st Century Scholars college aid program enrolled in college directly after high school, compared with 39% of low-income non-Scholars and 68% of higher-income students.

• 64% of students from urban or suburban areas attended college, compared with 59% of students from rural areas.

• 69% of female students attended college, compared with 57% of male students.

• 54% of students statewide completed all college coursework attempted during their first year.

Hoosiers' top choices

About 46% of 2017 high school graduates in Indiana enrolled in a public state college. Here are the five most popular public colleges among those students:

1. Ivy Tech Community College 25.4%

2. Indiana University-Bloomington 12.8%

3. Purdue University-West Lafayette 11.7%

4. IUPUI 10.7%

5. Ball State University 9.5%

Source: 2019 Indiana College Readiness Report

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