Students who delay college enrollment are 64 percent less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than peers who apply on time, and may even struggle with completing any kind of college credential. This is particularly concerning given new data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), the most comprehensive source of national postsecondary outcomes data, which reports that far fewer graduates from the class of 2020 (22 percent) went to college immediately after high school this fall, and these declines were much steeper –– nearly double –– for graduates of low-income and urban high schools.
College juniors and seniors need help navigating the landscape of postsecondary study now more than ever. In an effort to help reach and assist students amid the disruption caused by the pandemic, and to further mitigate future classes from experiencing these inequitable outcomes, National College Attainment Network (NCAN), a grantee of Carnegie Corporation of New York, hosted a webinar exploring both the NSC’s enrollment research and NCAN’s findings on best practices to aid students who are most at risk of losing out on the opportunity to attend college.
During the webinar Is the High School to College Pipeline Broken? The Data Says Yes, Kim Cook, NCAN’s executive director, and Douglas Shapiro, the executive director of NSC’s Research Center, spoke with Stacy Lightfoot, vice president of Public Education Foundation-Chattanooga, and Catalina Cifuentes, executive director of Riverside County Office of Education, to find out how their districts were charting the way forward for students this spring and beyond.
Both Lightfoot and Cifuentes emphasized the need for “old school” reengagement strategies that involve finding mentors and advisors who have the time to call students and talk to them about their personal college enrollment process. In a summary of the full NSC report, NCAN advises “more postsecondary on-ramps,” like increasing support for college and career readiness programming, such as AmeriCorps. There must also be a continued focus on postsecondary affordability, as well as top down maintenance of “communications avenues,” such as keeping student email addresses and phone numbers updated, as the year progresses.
Postsecondary support for every child, regardless of their circumstances, continues to be a prime focus of Carnegie Corporation of New York. To that end, the Corporation recently published Reimagining College and Career Transitions under COVID-19, a vision paper on how philanthropy can work to expand the range of options for postsecondary students and drive larger-scale systems change over the next few years.