Arkadelphia, Ark.-The percent of Arkadelphia High School graduates enrolling in college reached an all-time high since the creation of the Arkadelphia Promise. Promise Executive Director Jason Jones recently announced that the AHS college-going rate for 2014 graduates is 75.4 percent, the highest percent since the scholarhip program was announced in 2011, and the third consecutive year that this figure increased.
“Arkadelphia and the public schools have created a college-going culture where we can provide AHS’s students with the best information possible in order to send them to a school where they can be successful,” Jones said. “I’m glad to see that we are consistently sending a high number of our graduates to college and getting them started on the right foot, by not only providing financial assistance, but also guidance on which schools will be the best fit for them.”
The success of the Promise is often mesasured by comparing the college-going and college retention figures of AHS’s graduates to that of Arkansas’s and the national averages. AHS graduates consistently enroll in, and stay in, college well ahead of their peers. Promise graduates have steadily been ahead of the current national college-going rate of 65.9 percent, with 75.4 percent enrolling in 2014, 74 percent enrolling in 2013, 70.8 percent enrolling in 2012, and in 2011, the first Arkadelphia Promise class enrolled in college at a rate of 75.3 percent. Prior to the introduction of the program, the number of AHS graduates enrolling in college hovered around 60 percent.
The retention rate for AHS graduates between their college freshmen to sophomore years is also telling of Promise’s effectiveness at getting students to college, and keeping them there. In 2013, Promise graduates stayed in college at a rate greater than 10 percent compared to the highest Arkansas average in the last five years of 62.9 percent. The Promise graduates’ retention rates since the introduction of the program has remained 10 percent or better since the beginning, with 70 percent retention in 2011, 82 percent in 2013, and 76.9 percent in 2014.
These positive results come at a time when national trends in college enrollment are seeing a decline. In October of 2013, the national college enrollment rate was 65.9 percent, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and New York Times. That was a decrease from 66.2 percent the previous year and the lowest national enrollment rate in a decade.
Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, told the New York Times that many parents in the past paid for college by refinancing mortgages, an alternative no longer available to many families.
“Falling college enrollment indicates that upward mobility may become more difficult for working-class and disadvantaged high school graduates,” Shierholz said.
Jones holds several family meetings throughout the year to answer questions and provide helpful information for navigating the process of paying for their child’s college education. He also counsels every member of AHS’s senior class during their fall semester and holds informative group sessions for juniors.
For more information regarding the Arkadelphia Promise, contact Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 870-210-1271.