More Tennessee high schoolers are choosing not to pursue post-secondary education

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Posted at 6:52 AM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 08:03:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The number of Tennessee students choosing to go to college has slipped.

On Monday, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission released the inaugural state college-going status report, College Going and the Class of 2021.

The report examines the annual college-going rate and explores student aspirations and plans for after high school graduation. The new college-going rate, the portion of Tennessee public high school graduates who enrolled in post-secondary education immediately after high school, is 52.8%.

In fact, the college-going rate has dropped 9% over the past 5 years, from 63.8% for the Class of 2017 to 52.8% for the Class of 2021.

This is a trend being seen all over the country.

In Tennessee, some counties saw different rates of change, and there were notable disparities between Black, Hispanic, and white students.

“In the current economic reality, a high school diploma is not enough for long-term success. All students can benefit from post-secondary education or training beyond high school to achieve success and provide opportunities for advancement, which is why the college-going rate decline and disparities should be a call to action for Tennessee and our nation,” Executive Director Dr. Emily House said.

The SCORE Association, a nonprofit in the Middle Tennessee area, says education beyond a high school diploma is critical to the future economic success of the state.

The organization offered up several solutions to the state’s dilemma:

  • Bring post-secondary education into high school.
  • Establish a readiness indicator to tell all ninth graders, their families, and teachers where they stand on the path to post-secondary success.
  • Support students from the moment they graduate high school to the first day of college
  • Make higher education more accessible and try providing more grants to students with additional financial needs.

Tennessee Higher Education Commission added that in the current economic reality, a high school diploma is not enough for long-term success and all students can benefit from education or training beyond high school.