The number of Indiana high school graduates deciding to pursue a college education has been declining in recent years, according to a new state report.
However more students are taking advanced placement and dual credit courses suggesting they are better prepared for college.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s recent report showed 63 percent of all Indiana high school graduates go directly to college, compared to 64 percent last year and 65 percent in 2017.
The data also shows that while racial, ethnic and income gaps remain, students taking part in the state’s 21st Century Scholars program are more likely to attend college than their peers.
“One of the challenges facing higher education and reflected in this report is the decline in enrollment over recent years,” said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education. “Declining birth rates will impact enrollment patterns in the future, too.”
Lubbers said the state recognizes people are benefiting from a strong economy and job opportunities and may choose to enter the workforce instead of pursuing a college degree.
“We must continue to make a case for a quality degree or credential to ensure that Hoosiers are prepared for a dynamic economy,” she said. “Despite slightly lower college-going rates, we are encouraged that more Hoosiers are prepared for college success.”
Indiana college-going rates have slightly decreased, putting Indiana below the national average of 67 percent.
The state said Hoosier students who earn more rigorous diplomas in high school are more likely to go to college. Roughly 53 percent of all Core 40 earners enroll directly in college after high school compared to 93 percent of students with an honors diploma and only 18 percent of General diploma earners.
More Hoosier students are earning college credit in high school through dual credit courses and AP, the state said. Overall, 64 percent of high school students earned early college credit—representing a two-percentage point increase in one year and a 17-percentage point increase in five years.
The state said more Hoosier students are enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program than any other credential type. Of 2017 Indiana high school graduates, 69 percent pursued a bachelor’s degree compared to 28 percent pursuing an associate degree.