BENNINGTON -- Just about half of Mount Anthony Union High School's 2012 graduates went on to college, according to data compiled by school officials.
The school compiled a report on how many of its graduated students stayed in the same college going into their sophomore year, transferred colleges, or left college altogether, MAUHS principal Sue Maguire said Wednesday.
Of the 225 seniors that graduated from MAUHS in 2012, said Maguire, 112 went to college, or 49.8 percent. Of those students, 82 percent stayed at the same college, 14 percent transferred to a different college, two percent are no longer in college, and 2 percent took a year off from school and are now enrolled in college.
The high school started this program three years ago. They ask their students if and where they went to college, then call or email the student again a year later to see if their situation has changed.
"I think its tremendous, I think it's a very high number," said Maguire, who stressed that only two percent of the students were no longer in college. "For me, that means that we're helping students go to the colleges that make sense for them, both financially and what their capabilities are and what their interests are."
Maguire also included a comparison between the class of 2012 and the class of 2011. In 2011, 56 percent went to college, 72 percent of those stayed in the same college, 12 percent transferred to another college, 16 percent were no longer in college, and one percent took a gap year.
Overall, the percentage of MAUHS students who continued on to college was higher than the Vermont state average as was last reported in 2008, according to HigherEdInfo.org (49.8 percent as compared to 48.3 percent). However, those numbers are still significantly below the national average of 63.3 percent. Matriculation rates in nearby Massachusetts and New York are both are around 75 percent.
"A lot of high schools will tout the percentage of students graduating and going off to college, which is great, because you can show that to your community and it's a really easy number to understand," said MAUHS principal Tim Payne. "But, any kind of work that you're doing in college readiness really talks about two things: Academics and how good your guidance department is, what kind of conversations they're having with kids, understanding your kids, putting them in the right institution for what they want to do, and what they want to pursue."
He continued, "I spent the last 11 years before I came to the middle school in a high school very close to this community who can probably tell you how many kids go off to college. But we didn't do this, which is the really hard work and going a year later and following up with your alumni and saying, ‘How was your college experience, are you still there?' It really answers the question of college readiness."
Maguire said she doesn't know of other high schools that do this. Maguire said she has two people working on the project all summer, and difficulties in contacting alumni can make the process take even longer. Maguire said very often the school has to contact friends of students who have changed their email address or phone number in order to track them down.
"We really take it seriously," said Maguire, "because if you don't have all the information, its not really valuable."
Speaking to why more MAUHS graduates don't go on to college, Maguire said, "I think it's a variety of reasons. I think financial is one, but I think there are other reasons. Some kids just aren't ready for college. They might go, but they wouldn't be successful. To me, the question is, those other students, are they being productive in what they're doing? Whether it's in the military, whether it's in a job, whether they're being productive citizens is important."
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB