Immediate College Going Rate Fell Two Straight Years Since 2020
Fall 2021 immediate college enrollment rates for 2021 high school graduates in approximately 8,700 high schools nationwide declined by 0.9 to 2.2 percentage points, depending on high school income and minority-level characteristics, according to the 2022 High School Benchmarks Report.
Gaps in immediate enrollment by school income level prevailed from last year: graduates of higher-income schools were more likely to enroll immediately than those of low-income schools (64% vs. 49%). An even wider gap is present between students at high-poverty schools and low-poverty schools (46% vs. 72%). The gap in the rate of immediate fall enrollment at low-minority schools and high-minority schools persisted (64% vs. 51%).
These widespread decreases came in a year when enrollment rates were widely expected to recover from the sharp declines of the prior year (four to 10 percentage point drops; see the 2021 report). Instead, the results indicate a continued pandemic effect on immediate postsecondary enrollment for high school graduates.
Immediate fall enrollment decreased at schools regardless of income and poverty level. In addition, enrollment decreased in suburban and urban schools by nearly two percentage points but increased slightly in rural schools (+0.6 percentage points).
The 10th annual High School Benchmarks Report results update last years’ findings on high school graduates’ enrollment in a college or university, persistence from first to second year, and eventual completion of a postsecondary degree. As a result, these metrics provide relevant benchmarks that secondary education practitioners can use to evaluate and monitor progress in assisting students to make the transition from high school to college.
The report’s data are from a voluntary sample of all high schools participating in the National Student Clearinghouse StudentTracker for High Schools service (STHS). This is not a nationally representative sample of schools or of high school graduates. Compared to all U.S. high schools, participating STHS schools have greater representation among schools with more minority enrollments and more urban locales.