In just a few short weeks, hundreds of Amherst teens will march in green and gold to receive their diplomas.
Commencement for the Marion L. Steele High School Class of 2018 will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 26 at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center.
But once they have diplomas in hand, what happens to those fledgling adults?
Michael Molnar, the district’s assistant superintendent, has been researching facts and figures from the past six years that show where Steele alumni go and what they accomplish after life in Steele’s hallways.
He said it “affirmed some of the assumptions we make about our students and what they’re interested in and what their goals are when they graduate.”
On average, 72 percent enroll in college the year after they graduate, he told the board of education in an April 16 presentation.
Of those, about 88 percent return for a second year. That’s sky-high compared to the national sophomore retention rate of 61 percent.
They overwhelmingly opt to attend public colleges in Ohio. Molnar found that 61 percent of grads go to state-funded institutions while just 11 percent go to private schools — and a whopping 64 percent stay in-state.
Each year, 39 percent of graduates go off to pursue a four-year degree while 32 percent go to a two-year school.
Girls favor college more than boys, Molnar showed. That’s a consistent trend, not an anomaly, and some years the gap has been nearly 10 percent.
And of course economics still play a role. About half of disadvantaged students go to college, highlighting the opportunity gap for kids who grow up in poor households.
So who ultimately goes on to graduate?
In the 2016-2017 academic year, about 42 percent of Amherst kids from the Class of 2012 made it through the gauntlet to college graduation. A full quarter of those who had once enrolled had dropped out, while three percent had left school and returned.
Those are pretty good figures, in line with the United States average, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The data, which comes from the National Student Clearinghouse and is collected from colleges, doesn’t reveal the complete picture.
For example, it doesn’t reveal why students choose to attend certain colleges — whether the choice is financial, due to credits racked up through the College Credit Plus program at Lorain County Community College, or because students want to stay closer to family.
Nor does it track students who enter the workforce or military.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.