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The Road to a College Degree

May is college graduation season, and my social media feeds have been flooded with pictures of college graduates posing in caps and gowns, captioned with reflections on their college experiences. This, combined with the fact that my brother has begun the process of looking at colleges, has me thinking about all the various things that need to happen for a student to get into and ultimately succeed in college. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a study in 2012 which found that the road to college starts well before a student’s junior or senior year of high school, and the factors that affects a student’s likelihood of attending college (and graduating) are varied and numerous. A few of these factors include:

  • Home Life: Socioeconomic status, discussing classwork with parents, and having a parent who went to college all increase a student’s chances of success.
  • Staying Engaged: Involvement in two or more extracurricular activities and being involved in sports make students more likely to attend and graduate college.
  • Academic Preparation: 9th grade GPA, 10th grade math scores, and whether a student takes precalculus in high school are correlated with a student’s likelihood of graduating college within six years of graduating high school.
  • Available Time: Working more than 30 hours per week in high school and 20 hours per week in college makes students less likely to graduate.
  • Once in college, full-time students are twice as likely to obtain their degree compared to part-time students.
  • Attending a for-profit institution makes a student 59% less likely to finish school, compared to those who start at public institutions.
  • Female students are more likely to enter college right after high school, to stay enrolled, and to graduate college than their male counterparts. The study also found girls more likely to plan on attending college, look up requirements, and meet with college representatives.

The benefits of attending and graduating college are well-documented, and investing in students benefits not just individuals but entire communities. By encouraging childhood literacy and funding programs to promote families’ financial security and provide educational opportunities for kids, we hope to increase the number of high school and college graduates in New London County.


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