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Massachusetts education officials warn of plummeting college enrollment rates

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Massachusetts is seeing what educators have described as an “amazing drop” in high school graduates going on to college.

Fresh out of high school in Massachusetts has dropped nearly 10% over the past five years, according to new data released by the state on Wednesday. In 2017 he went from nearly 70% to just 60% now.

Chris Gabrielli said, “It has the highest college-going levels in the workforce in the country, the economy depends more on college success than anywhere else, and people generally pursue advanced degrees. It’s a state that has a fair commitment to demand that it do so.” Chaired the State Board of Higher Education and aggregated data with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other state agencies.

“I’m really worried,” Gabrielli added, warning of a plummeting enrollment rate and encouraging early college programs to encourage students to earn credits and gain academic confidence while still in high school. I asked the state to invest in it.

“We looked at the first 2,500 cases. [early college] Graduates have significantly improved college enrollment and persistence,” he said.

Good news? Data show that students who participate in early college programs are 30% more likely to get into college, and students with good grades in the state’s Grade 10 Math MCAS are more likely to go to college sooner.

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, universities across the country were already grappling with declining enrollments.

The sharp drop in Massachusetts mirrors the national trend. Since the pandemic began, college enrollment has fallen by more than 10% nationwide, with a steeper decline at community colleges than at four-year schools.

said Nate Mackinnon, executive director of the Massachusetts Community College Association. “The pandemic has made it exponentially worse, so we now have a real challenge.”

Part of the problem, he explained, is that Americans are questioning the value of going to college, given rising tuition and rising student loan debt.

“We absolutely believe that [value in college attendance]However, we believe that not all students need a four-year bachelor’s degree to be successful in today’s economy. It really fits. ”

He said the state’s community colleges are poised to make a difference, but many young people are quickly entering the workforce to support their families.

“[High school graduates] Starting at $16 or $17 an hour, you can get a decent paying job doing a fairly simple job,” Mackinnon says. “So the opportunity cost of going to college and not working is very high, especially for low-income people, a market we primarily serve in community colleges.”

New data from the state shows wide disparities in gender, race and socioeconomic status. Specifically, the pandemic continues to accelerate the mass disappearance of men from college campuses, and since 2016, college attendance has fallen the most in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Massachusetts Today Only 1 in 3 low-income people in the United States attend college. That compares with her 8 out of 10 middle- and high-income women in the state.

To reverse this trend, school districts such as Lynn Public Schools are expanding early college programs from 450 students last year to more than 700 this fall.

In 2021, only 37% of Lin’s high school graduates went on to college. That’s down from her 50% in 2019.

Shannon Gardner directed an early college program at Lynn and says many of her students don’t go to college because of the economy.

“It’s really the COVID effect. did.

“They are college students who already have college transcripts,” she said. “They’ve already had a taste of success in college classrooms. It’s nothing strange for them.”

State legislators have taken notice of this success. The budget Gov. Charlie Baker signed last week included his $19 million to expand his 39 early college programs in the state to his 50 high schools and 24 colleges.

Erika Giampietro, executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance for Early College, said it’s important that the state continues to invest in what policymakers know works.

“We know that these metrics are very predictive of the final degree,” she said. “Early colleges will help mitigate the plummeting enrollment rates we are seeing.”