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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Kimberly Beck 781-338-3105

More Massachusetts Graduates Headed to 4-Year Colleges Than Ever Before

MALDEN - An unprecedented number of Massachusetts high school graduates planned to attend a four-year college in 2003 after earning their diplomas, according to a new report.

In all, of the 55,987 graduates in the class of 2003, 75 percent planned to attend college, with 56 percent headed to a four-year college and 19 percent headed to a two-year school. This marks the highest percentage of graduates headed to a four-year school since the state began surveying the future plans of high school seniors in 1975.

"In today's competitive global economy, a higher education is absolutely critical, so this is a very positive trend," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "It is encouraging to see that more of our students every year are striving for more than just a high school diploma. Unfortunately, many young people who start college never finish, but I am hopeful that our graduates will go on to earn their college degrees and have great success in their futures."

According to the state's "Plans of High School Graduates" report released Wednesday, the percentage of graduates planning to attend private four-year schools has shown the greatest increase over time, rising from 17.5 percent in 1975 to 30.7 percent in 1993. The percent of graduates planning to attend a public four-year school has also risen steadily, from 16.4 percent in 1975 to 24.8 percent in 2004.

Not surprisingly, as the college bound numbers have risen over the past two decades, the percentage heading straight to work has declined. In 1975, 30.9 percent of graduates planned to start working immediately, where as in 2003 just 11.6 were headed to work. Other non-college choices have also dropped: in 1975, 4 percent were headed for the military; in 2003 just 2.2 percent chose the military.

Other results include:

  • As has been the trend for more than a decade, more women planned to attend college than men. In 2003, 81 percent of female graduates planned to attend a two- or four-year college, compared to 68.7 percent of male graduates. In contrast, 15.4 percent of males planned to go straight to work, as compared to 8 percent of females.
  • The percentage of graduates heading to a two- or four-year college varied widely among different ethnic groups: 80.4 percent of Asians, 77.4 percent of whites, 64.3 percent of African-Americans, 64.2 percent of Native Americans and 56 percent of Hispanics.
  • Among vocational-technical school graduates, 44.5 percent planned on working, 3.9 percent planned to enter the military, 25.5 percent planned to attend a two-year college and 15.2 percent planned to attend a four-year college.
  • Among charters school graduates, 86.1 percent planned to attend college, with 23.9 percent headed to a two-year school and 62.2 percent headed to a four-year school. In addition, 0.9 percent of charter school graduates planned to enter the military, and 6.1 percent were headed to work.

Results for a handful of districts and schools were unavailable when this report was finalized. However, results for many of them, such as Somerville, are now available by contacting the district directly. The addition of these results will not significantly impact the statewide numbers.

To view the entire report, as well as individual high school results, look online at Plans of High School Graduates: Class of 2003.

Last Updated: May 26, 2004

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