A greater percentage of Greeley-Evans School District 6 graduates are enrolling in college than the previous year, according to a Colorado Department of Higher Education report.
Seeming to turn around a general decline over the years, 45.6 percent of District 6's 2015 graduates enrolled in postsecondary education within a year of graduating. Though up from the previous year's enrollment rate of 44.9 percent, the district still sits below the statewide enrollment rate of 56.5 percent.
Theresa Myers, District 6 communications director, attributed the improvement to two federal grant programs: Advancing via Individual Determination (AVID) and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP).
AVID is aimed at students without a family history of going to college, and in some cases it reaches students without a family history of even graduating high school. The students go to a class where they learn time management, study skills, how to ask questions or take notes and other vital student skills. Though AVID has been around for a while, Myers said enrollment in the program is up.
"It's really aimed at that middle-level kid, not a really high-achieving kid or a really low-achieving kid," she said. "It's really some of that basic training of how to be a successful student, with the goal in mind that these students will then apply for college."
And it works, too. For the last few years, Myers said, 100 percent of students enrolled in AVID applied to at least one college. GEAR UP is beginning to show results too, she added.
GEAR UP allows the district to follow a cohort of students from seventh grade until graduation. The program is aimed at students who haven't considered college. With campus visits, mock interviews and applications, workshops and test prep, the program is meant to get students to be able to see themselves attending college.
The importance of postsecondary education is on the rise. According to researchers at Georgetown Public Policy Institute, 74 percent of Colorado jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by 2020.
"I think we're getting better and better," Myers said. "In our strategic plan, one of the main goals is that every single student will graduate with a plan, post-high school."
The college enrollment rate for the state is on the turnaround too. After observing a downward trend in enrollment following the 2008 recession, the report shows the enrollment rate increasing with the class of 2014 and continuing with 2015.
Those first-year college students are continuing to perform better, with an average grade-point average of 2.79. That number continues an upward trend since 2009, when the average grade-point average in the state was just 2.66.
Source: The Tribune