Mixed College Bag

Physician's Money Digest, November15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 21

Measuring Up 2004

High school students are better preparedfor college than they were 10 yearsago, but that hasn't resulted in higher collegeenrollments, according to a recentstudy. , a reportissued by the National Center for PublicPolicy and Higher Education (www.highereducation.org), shows that althoughmore students are taking higher-levelcourses in high school, fewer are going onto college. The report, in state-by-stateanalyses, rates individual states in fivecategories, assigning a grade from A to Ffor each. In some states, the improvementin college preparation has been dramatic.

In states like Texas, West Virginia,and North Carolina, three of five highschoolers now take at least one upper-levelmathematics course, up 50% from adecade ago. Among the more discouragingfindings is that college is much lessaffordable than it was 10 years ago. Onlyone state, California, managed a B gradeon affordability criteria. Two others,Minnesota and Utah, got Cs. Elevenstates were given Ds, and the rest got Fs.

College completion rates also remainstagnant, with more than a third of collegestudents failing to obtain theirdegree within 6 years. At communitycolleges, only 63% of incoming freshmencome back for a second year.Vermont leads the list of states in completionand earned an A, along with nineother states, while Alaska and Nevadareceived failing grades.

The report also shows a widening gapin college enrollment between white studentsand ethnic minorities. In manystates, enrollment among white studentshas gone up, while it has gone downamong minority students. The same thingis true of the gap between upper-incomeand lower-income students.