Highschool Graduation Rates Continue to Decline- What Does This Mean for the Higher Education Landscape?

TalkingEDUSmall.jpgStagnation in high school graduation rates is a real thing over the past decade, and the number of 2017 graduates is expected to continue to drop dramatically. With projection numbers decreasing through 2023 (see graphic* below),  and falling more than 81,000 in 2017 alone, WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) understands this to mean that higher education systems are going to have to change in order to be successful in admissions and retention.


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The demographic of the student base is changing, too. As noted by projections in a report released by WICHE, the pool of high school graduates is projected to become less white, more Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander, and increasingly located in the South over the coming years. As the demographic of incoming students changes (including more minority and lower income students),  WICHE's president Joe Garcia notes that colleges will need to reach out to the new student population, creating programs designed to recruit and retain these students, who typically do not have high college graduation rates.  

Deborah Santiago, co-founder, chief operating officer and VP for  Excelencia in Education (a non-profit group focusing on Latino student success), notes that we need to understand that programs designed for traditional students – and traditional student success - aren’t working and won’t work for post-traditional students who do not fit the majority profile. As the student landscape is shifting to a larger minority base, she indicates that it is important that we understand how to best attract and retain these students, stating, “Identifying new ways and new categories of students to recruit is a clear opportunity to be proactive in positioning to serve a wider profile of post-traditional students.”

To learn more about dropping high school graduation rates and how it affects the higher education landscape, read the full article here, which includes information on:

  • Variations of graduation class sizes by region and state
  • Policy implications
  • Enrollment pressures and resultant work force pressures
  • Budget cuts as higher education institutions have trouble filling classes with students who can pay full tuition

 * Souce: William J Hussar and Tabitha Bailey. "Projections of Education Statistics to 2024: Forty-Third Edition.

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