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College-going Rate For Eligible W.Va. Graduates Dips Below 50 Percent


The college-going rate for eligible 2021 graduates has dropped to just 46 percent.

This dropoff marks the first time the metric has dropped below 50 percent since tracking began in 2001. It includes students who have reported their standardized test scores to four-year public institutions and two-year community and technical colleges.

At an interim meeting of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA), Matt Turner of the Higher Education Policy Commission says this dropoff may be because of pandemic-related factors.

“Just even in the fall of 2021, the college courses were still a hybrid mix, there was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of folks were coming to the class and they’d have to go back home,” Turner said. “We believe that there probably was a bit of a sour taste from Zoom exhaustion, we’ll call it, and some concern from students that, ‘I’m not sure I want to pay for a college experience that is going to be remote.’”

Turner also noted that struggles with both the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis could specifically be adding to the academic difficulties of first-generation students from rural areas.

The data comes from the yearly Academic Readiness Report shown to the LOCEA by the Higher Education Policy Commission and Council for Community and Technical College Education. The report measures post-secondary students’ ACT and SAT scores and the enrollment and completion of college-level coursework.

Other trends in the report are more positive. Average ACT scores increased in 25 counties and English and math readiness rates increased in 36 counties over the past year.