Most grads extend school

A survey found most high school graduates in Minnesota go to college.

by Lacey Crisp

More Minnesota high school students are entering college after graduation than ever before, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The Minnesota Higher Education Services Office released the survey, which shows that for fall 2003, 65 percent of Minnesota’s 64,000 high school graduates went on to college. Of those graduates, almost 50 percent stayed in Minnesota, and 15 percent left the state.

The number of minorities going on to higher education has also increased.

The study reported that from 1999 to 2003, there was a 51 percent increase in the number of black students, 38 percent increase for Hispanic students and 30 percent increase for Asian students.

Brittany Clausell, a coordinator for La Raza Student Cultural Center, said the increase is good news.

“We are looking for more minorities to attend higher education,” she said.

Clausell said increasing tuition is a problem in attracting minorities, but there is help for students.

“As long as financial aid is available, minorities can go to school,” Clausell said. “That pushes us forward.”

Minnesota ranks third, just behind New Jersey and North Dakota, in getting tracked ninth graders to go to college at the end of high school, the Higher Education Services Office reported.

Susan Heegaard, the office’s director, said there could be several reasons for the increase.

She said this is a step in the right direction, especially the increase in minority students.

“If (minority students) get (to graduation), then they have a good chance of going to college,” Heegaard said.

She said it is important to dig beyond the statistics and see what is happening to minority students.

“If they get to graduation, the achievement gap lessens,” Heegaard said.

She also said there needs to be more focus on at-risk students so they can graduate from high school and have a better chance at going to college.

Sam Adegoke, the Black Student Union president, said he thinks the increase might be because of the resources available to high school students.

“It was shocking how many resources are available,” Adegoke said.

He said he has also seen an increase in the number of students in the Black Student Union.

“Participation has increased,” Adegoke said. “This year has been crazy for the amount of traffic going through our office.”

Adegoke said he would like the trend to continue.

“I hope that we won’t settle for this increase,” he said. “We should strive to give back to our community.”

The Minnesota Higher Education Services Office is a state agency that provides students with postsecondary information and financial aid.

– Brady Averill contributed to this story.