Sunday, June 14, 2015

Where They're Going

A few weeks ago, The Detroit Jewish News published its annual "Cap and Gown" issue. This issue has a section with the names and faces of all area students who sent their information to the newspaper; generally, this consisted of the high school name, some information about their activities in high school, and what they're doing next. Although the list is by no means comprehensive -- many families may not subscribe to the paper or, like us, may simply have forgotten -- it seemed to me to provide an interesting slice of the local community. Between the listings in The Jewish News and a handful whose information I have because we know the families, I found I had records for 283 students. Of these, 20 have not listed a college, either because they listed only a gap year in Israel, or because they listed themselves as "undecided." I decided to take a look at the other 263.

Of the 263 students with a listed decision, 99% are headed off to a 4-year (or more) college in the fall or after their gap year, all but one in the United States. This high percentage comes pretty much as no surprise; the cap & gown section, after all, is a place for parents to kvell about their kids, and if their child isn't doing something worth bragging about, then maybe their information won't be submitted.

When Aaron first started high school at Frankel Jewish Academy, the guidance people there bragged that "100%" of their students get in to either their first or second choice for college; they said it as a virtual guarantee. I wondered a bit about this. When I was in high school in New Jersey, someone at the top of a class would typically have their top 2 choices in the Ivy League or at an elite private liberal arts college; even then admissions rates at those places were too low for that kind of guarantee.
Where the Class of 2015 are going, by state / province. 20 states are represented; none heavily outside Michigan.
When I graduated high school in New Jersey in 1980, staying in-state was definitely not a priority; maybe we weren't all born to run, but most of us got out while we were still young.

But as the numbers show here, in 2015 our children are mostly staying in Michigan. No matter how I diced and spliced the underlying data, whether by gender, by high school, by type of high school even, the numbers came out more or less the same: They're going to the University of Michigan or to Michigan State, with UofM being the clear first choice. If not to one of those two then to one of Michigan's other public universities (Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Oakland University showing up most frequently). More than half of the Frankel graduating class is going to UofM, and in every grouping of students I could think to run, more than a third will be wearing maize and blue in the fall.

Only among the students graduating from private high schools are a significant percentage leaving the state, and even there it trails the number going to UofM. Overall, of the 263 students represented, 209 are staying in Michigan. Maybe this speaks well of the perception of Michigan's colleges, or maybe it's a combination of both economic and academic factors keeping kids close home.

Aaron graduated from West Bloomfield High School, and will be attending Central Michigan University in the fall.

No matter how I looked at it, Michigan is #1 and Michigan State is #2.