College admissions increase despite drop in high school grads

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Colleges and universities across the United States stepped up their recruiting efforts to offset dwindling numbers of high school graduates over the two decades ending in 1999, a study by five leading educational institutions reported Monday.

That helped schools maintain their academic standards, according to researchers who produced "Trends in College Admission 2000."

The report was issued by: the National Association for College Admission Counseling; the Association for Institutional Research; the two organizations behind the SAT -- the Educational Testing Service and the College Board; and ACT Inc.

Similar reports were issued in 1979, 1985 and 1992.

From 1979-99, the annual number of high school graduates declined by more than 250,000 students to less than 3 million, the new report said, though the decline ended in 1994. Graduation numbers have increased since then and are expected to keep rising.

Jim Maxey, a senior research scientist with ACT, said schools began marketing themselves more heavily in the 1970s.

The report said schools are marketing themselves a wide variety of ways: visits to high schools and college fairs, using the Internet and mailing services, hiring public relations consultants and calling prospective students.

The report partly credited recruiting efforts for an increase in the percentage of students going on to college after high school.

In 1979, only about half of graduates enrolled in college immediately after high school, the report said. By the late 1990s, that figure had increased to about 60 percent of high school graduates.

The percentage of blacks graduates moving on to college straight from high school increased from 45 percent to 60 percent, the report said. Hispanic high school graduates went to college at rate of over 50 percent, up from 45 percent, the study said.

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