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Report shows fewer than half of Arizona high schoolers head to college after graduation

High School student in class
Posted at 7:03 AM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 20:14:52-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Across the state, fewer than half of Arizona high school graduates enrolled in a four- or two-year program, according to a new report by the Arizona Board of Regents. In 2019, about 52.9% of high school graduates in the state enrolled in college. This year that number decreased to 46.3%.

The report details that this decrease is a concern because it will impact the workforce and the quality of Arizona's labor market.

ABOR Executive Director John Arnold said they knew the number of students enrolling would take a hit with the pandemic.

"This is the 2020 graduates who were of course impacted by the pandemic so we weren't surprised but it exacerbated an already existing problem." Arnold said.

According to Arnold, it's the third year in a row that enrollment has dropped and Arizona always trailed behind the national average. The cost, he said, is something that steers students away.

"There’s an information gap," Arnold said "We need to do a better job getting information into the hands of students and families about what financial aid is available and what are the requirements and how to apply.”

Arnold said it also comes down to having qualified teachers in the classroom and piquing student's interest in going to college. At the University of Arizona, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Kasey Urquidez said they've been able to keep their overall enrollment numbers up with hitting records in international student enrollment.

"We’ve been able to keep that increase into 2021 but it doesn’t help address the larger question of why students graduating from high school aren’t choosing to go to secondary education," she said.

She said the goal is to inform students and families about the opportunities available for going to college. And she said college is more than just classes and tests, it's about growing into adulthood.

"We know that there are some amazing students out there who are just not sure about what to do," Urquidez said. "So we try to take that lens and apply that to work with families and high school counselors to try and get that information out."

She said UA partnered with Sunnyside School District for officials to be in the schools informing students about college.