U of M Recruiters React to Changing High School Graduation Rates

Updated: 01/29/2013 7:47 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz

It is the thick of college admission season, with high school seniors and their parents buried in piles of paperwork. This year, there is new information about what the pool of high school graduates will look like.

According to a study from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, high school classes are shrinking, especially in the Midwest.

In Minnesota, the report estimates a nearly 7 percent drop from 2009-2010 to 2012-2013. The decline has prompted more recruiting at the University of Minnesota.

"We've enhanced actually our recruitment efforts across our state, and at the same time we've been targeting areas across the country as well," said Rachelle Hernandez, Director of Admissions at the University of Minnesota.

The U of M is looking in places like Chicago, Missouri and California.

"We do certainly look at the demographic shift so we are looking at areas where there are students who are looking to leave their home state or who are mobile. But we also look at areas where we have alumni, where there's an interest in the big 10," said Rachelle Hernandez, Director of Admissions at the University of Minnesota.

High school classes are also becoming more diverse. The study shows by 2020, 23 percent of Minnesota high school graduates won't be white, compared to 17 percent in 2009.

"There are going to be more students like them on a college campus," said Bethany Krueger, Associate Director of College Possible.

College Possible is a nationwide program, founded in the Twin Cities in 2000. The program prepares low-income high school students for college. 91 percent of the students enrolled are students of color.

"We really see it as an opportunity, as the number of high school students are declining, to leverage that group and help them be successful both gaining admission into college and graduating from," Krueger said.

At Minneapolis Public Schools, counselors work to ready diverse students for graduation and the college world.

"It's a wakeup call for us. It's a wakeup call for parents and students, that they are not going to be able to find sustainable living wage jobs if they are not getting that education," said Shelly Landry, Lead Counselor at Minneapolis Public Schools. 
Click here to see the study.