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Less than Half of High School Graduates in the State Ineligible for Arizona’s Major Colleges

Many might find it hard to believe that less than half of high school graduates throughout the state of Arizona have been found ineligible for admission to three public universities in the state. A new study took information from 2014 high school seniors in the state, as well as statistics from public colleges in the state. The three public universities available to students, who wish to stay in state, are University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Eligibility for these universities remained relatively low, which is a cause for concern since half of high school graduates did not meet the standards set forth by these colleges. This is especially important because these universities are actually at an all-time high and making record for the number of students enrolled. These students are just not coming from Arizona.

Eligibility Requirements

Information from the Board of Regents for Arizona’s Public Universities, states that there are several standard eligibility requirements for admissions. First, high school graduates must have at least a 2.5 GPA and complete 16 required core courses, with no more than two deficiencies, which cannot be in both math and science. This includes four units of English and math, three units of science, two units of social science and foreign language, and one unit of fine arts or technical/career education. These are requirements throughout all three public universities, and are on the same scale as most other public state universities. The study found that only 46.5% of high school graduates actually met these eligibility requires. This is a scary number, and many parents, school officials, and staff are wondering what might be the contributing factor to such a low percentage.

High school consistency across the state

Many believe that not all high schools throughout the state are providing students with the proper classes to meet eligibility requirements, and if they are, students are not taking those courses. This is where school counselors come into play, and should be aware of university eligibility requirements. Some even say that there should be a statewide standard for high school graduation requirements that also meet the university eligibility requirements. The study found that most students had a problem with the math requirement, and 41% of students actually failed to meet the math requirement. This shows that math curriculum needs to be reevaluated, in order to figure out a new way to teach students the material.

The study also showed that compared to White and Asian students in the state, fewer African American, Native American, and Latino students met the admission requirements. Female students had significantly higher eligibility rates, compared to male students. An achievement gap exists between a student’s race and sex, when it shouldn’t. All students should have equal opportunity to meet eligibility requirements.

Arizona graduates in the workforce

This study is worrisome because it means that there might not be enough college graduates going out into the workforce and filling positions. If students at Arizona public colleges are coming from other states, it is good for enrollment, but not for the state’s workforce. Most of these out of state students will head back to their hometowns upon graduation. High school graduates who do not attend college will also have a hard time finding a job that pays well. Most jobs in the state require some kind of post- secondary education. This includes a four year Bachelor’s degree, 2 year Associate’s Degree, and certificate program completion.

How to make a change

In order for the percentage of high school graduates meeting college eligibility requirements to go up, changes must be made. Certain counties throughout the state are more or less likely to meet eligibility requirements, which is due to an abundance of resources and access to courses, or not enough. Results from the study showed that out of 488 high schools in the state, 51 of these schools did not send a single graduate on to a public university. This is where you see a need for change. Access in rural areas of the state are key to providing equal opportunity to all high school students. With the growth of eLearning platforms, a good option for schools who do not offer all classes that a student needs to meet eligibility requirements, is online courses. If a student wants to learn and needs to take a course in order to be accepted into college, then allow them the opportunity for school credit by taking an online course.

It is a shame that more than half of high school graduates are not able to attend college because they do not meet eligibility requirements. An overall change needs to take place, statewide, in order for these numbers to change. Last year it was less than half, next year it might be 25%. As a nation, we do not want to see these numbers drop, but would rather see a rise in the number of students able to attend college. Only time will tell if the proper changes are actually made to allow all students an equal opportunity.