College Enrollment – Where do our Students Really go?

Post-high school planning, also known as the college search, is a topic that can strike fear in the hearts of even some of the most experienced parents.  We can spend countless hours wondering how to ensure that our children are well prepared, and of course, we try to point them in the “right” direction.

As we all know, living in Marin also adds an element of pressure.  It seems like everyone is talking about where their children will be going to college, but do you ever wonder where the majority of our students actually end up?  Do you wonder how many TUHSD students attend the UCs, CSUs, and College of Marin?  How many students go directly from high school to a career?  There are so many post-high school choices with something to fit everyone’s needs, and yet, the conversation doesn’t always include the variety of options available.

At the Tamalpais Union High School District, we are quite interested in our data regarding post-high school preparation and college enrollment.  So that we could better understand the facts, we have acquired some previously unreleased data from the National College Clearinghouse that allows us to go beyond the anecdotal stories and student self-reported data that we have heard in the past.  Data from the clearinghouse reports the percentage of students who complete an undergraduate degree in six years; therefore, the most recent data available is for the class of 2007.  Here is the data in relation to some commonly asked questions:

How many TUHSD students enroll in college, and how many of them earn a degree?

  • 80% of our graduates enrolled in college in 2007.  Of those who entered college, 70% earned a degree in six years or less.
  • TUHSD students were much more likely than others to graduate within six years.  The national average of students who enrolled in college and earned a degree in six years or less is 54.2%.

How many TUHSD students either do not enroll in college or do not finish their degrees?

  • For the class of 2007, 391 students (out of 955), or 41.2%, either did not enroll in college or did not receive a degree within six years.

Where do TUHSD students enroll in college?

  • The top five colleges of enrollment for the classes of 2007-2013 are as follows:
    • College of Marin – 832 students
    • University of California, Santa Cruz – 239 students
    • University of Oregon – 171 students
    • University of California, Santa Barbara – 163 students
    • California Polytechnic State University – 162 students

Both parents and school staff are also quite interested in how well we prepare our students for post-high school education.  The research is clear.  One of the best predictors of success in college and career is access to a rigorous curriculum in high school.  Thus, as a district, we regularly monitor many data points including, but not limited to, enrollment and success in Advanced Placement courses and numbers of students who take college entrance tests such as the SAT.  Here is what we know about recent trends regarding college readiness:

  • Over the past five years, we have had significant increases in the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes, taking the exams, and scoring “passing” grades or higher.  About 30% more students now take an AP course and the exam; at the same time, our passing rates have increased by about 30%.
  • Over the past five years, we have had a 100% increase in the numbers of low-income students who take Advanced Placement courses; their pass rates have increased by 147%.
  • Over the past five years, the numbers of students taking the SAT have increased by about 4%.  Even more significantly, the number of students of color who take the SAT has increased by 61%, and the number of low-income students taking the test has increased by 102%.
  • SAT scores for TUHSD students have increased .5%, and 3.5% for low-income students.

As you can see, the data above tells us a story about our schools.  Our students are well prepared for college and career, but we can and will continue to improve what we teach and how we teach it.  If we are truly preparing the leaders of the future, we need to ensure success for all students, not just for most students.  The data also tells us that we are improving preparation levels for ALL students, not just one or two small subgroups.

The clearinghouse data shows that, by far, the most popular college choice for our students is College of Marin.  In fact, more students attend COM than the next four popular choices combined.  It’s important to remember that COM is a great option and that the staff there has worked to improve their services to our students over the past several years.

In the end, there is no “one size fits all” for post-high school, and our best bet is to prepare our students so that they have a variety of options from which to choose.


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