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4/27/2012 7:07:00 AM
Survey: Many high school students fail to plan for college

Maureen Hayden, Herald Bulletin CNHI Statehouse Bureau Chief

INDIANAPOLIS — Too many Indiana high school students are failing to prepare for college, according to a new report based on a survey of freshmen and juniors around the state.

Among the findings of researchers who authored the report: Less than 50 percent of students who said they wanted to go to college had talked to their high school counselors about what they needed to do to get there. Only about 30 percent of students who said they were undecided about college had talked to a guidance counselor.

The report also found that while many students said they wanted to go to college, very few students were completing an annual “graduation plan” that’s now required for every high school student in the state.

“Students say the right things but aren’t backing their words with action,” said John Krauss, director of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, which produced the report. “This leaves them unprepared for the next level of learning or to enter the work force.”

The report comes at a time when Indiana is redoubling its efforts to push college attainment and completion rates and tying that effort to economic development. The IU Public Policy report noted that current levels of educational attainment in Indiana — which ranks 44th in the nation for percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree — have reduced per capita income and wage rates in the state. That’s because more and more jobs are requiring some kind of post-secondary learning, Krauss said.

“We’ve got to find some better ways of engaging students early on so they know they are in control of their destiny,” Krauss said.

The report’s findings are based on surveys of ninth- and 11th-graders around the state. The surveys were conducted by Learn More Indiana, a collaborative effort of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana.

The new report comes on the heels of a study released by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education that found that 31 percent of Hoosier high school graduates who went to an Indiana public college or university needed to take a remedial course in math or science.

Sue Burow, research and data coordinator for the IU Public Policy Institute, said students who come unprepared to college often find themselves unable to compete their degree on time. That translates into big dollars in tuition, fees, room and board. “When I was in college, having to go an extra year meant another $1,000 or so,” Burow said. “Today, that can mean another $20,000.”

Among other findings in the report:

  • Less than 75 percent of students plan to take math during their senior year. The number falls to less than 60 percent of students who say they plan to attend a two-year college. The result, said Krauss, is that by avoiding math during their senior year in high school, many students will find it more difficult and costly to pursue a college degree.

  • Less than 30 percent of high school juniors who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree plan on staying in Indiana after graduation from college. More than 40 percent of juniors who aren’t planning to go to college say they do plan to stay in Indiana.

  • Of students who plan to go to college, 95 percent said they turn in their homework on time and 91 percent said they ask their teachers for help. Of students undecided about their plans after high school, 77 percent turn in their homework on time and 75 percent said they ask their teachers for help.

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR


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