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Slight decline in number of Alabama graduates attending college, report shows

A mortarboard and graduation scroll, tied with red ribbon, on a stack of old battered book with empty space to the left. Slightly undersaturated with vignette for vintage effect.

The number of Alabama high school graduates enrolling in college has slightly decreased over the last five years, according to a report published by a nonpartisan research group based at Samford University.

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) has a tradition of reporting college-going rates for Alabama and its local systems and schools.

The percentage of high school graduates in Alabama enrolling in college after graduating in 2018 remained the same as the graduating class of 2017, at 62 percent. The number and percentage attending two-year colleges slightly increased. The number and percentage of recent graduates entering four-year colleges both slightly decreased.

The data, drawn by ACHE from the National Student Clearinghouse, follows Alabama public high school students who graduated in the spring of 2018 and enrolled in higher education in the fall or spring of 2019. The data includes records for in-state and out-of-state institutions, both public and private.

Over the past five years, the college-going rates for Alabama’s high school graduates have declined slightly. In 2014, the first year this set of statistics was produced, 65 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college the year after their graduation. In both 2017 and 2018, 62 percent of graduates enrolled.

At the same, the size of the senior classes has been larger and graduation rates have been higher. That has produced more high school graduates going into college. 

While 2018’s 62 percent college-going rate is tied for the lowest rate over this five year period, the actual number of graduates enrolling in college increased in 2018 compared to 2017. Only in 2016 did more students attend college, 31,414 in 2016, compared to 31,337 students in 2018.

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However, the larger classes of seniors and higher graduation rates have resulted in greater numbers of students graduating with a high school diploma but not immediately continuing their education. Among graduates of the Class of 2018, 19,191 did not enroll in higher education after graduating high school.

The report found that the top five systems sending students to four-year colleges includes:

  • Mountain Brook City: 86 percent
  • Vestavia Hills: 79 percent
  • Homewood City: 71 percent
  • Hoover City: 64 percent
  • Trussville City: 59 percent

The report also found that the top five systems sending students to two-year colleges includes:

  • Lamar County: 67 percent
  • Boaz City: 69 percent
  • Roanoke City: 60 percent
  • Marion County: 57 percent
  • Winfield City and Winston County: 55 percent
Written By

Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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