Survey of Graduating Seniors Outlines their Education and Career Plans After High School

June 1, 2001
Most of the Montgomery County Public Schools' 23 high schools will be holding their graduation ceremonies in the next two weeks. For a large majority of graduating seniors, the next step will be heading to college, if statistics compiled by the school system follow the same pattern they have for the past few years.

A survey of postsecondary plans of graduating seniors in the Class of 2000 showed that 82 percent planned to attend college either full time or part time, with the largest numbers heading for University of Maryland or Montgomery College.

Of 8,229 seniors eligible for graduation in 2000, 7,047 (86 percent) completed the survey, prepared by the Applied Research Unit of the Office of Shared Accountability.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of the respondents planned to attend four-year colleges full time. A small percentage (4 percent) planned to attend four-year colleges part time. About one-quarter planned to attend two-year colleges either full time (16 percent) or part time (7 percent), and only about 3 percent said they planned to enter trade, business or technical schools.

Only about 8 percent said they planned to enter employment full time, either related (2.1 percent) or unrelated (5.7 percent) to high school trade, business or technical courses. Another 22 percent said they would enter employment part time, either related (6 percent) or not related (16 percent) to their high school course-work. (For the most part, this last group also planned to attend two-year colleges.) Only a small number planned to enter military service (3 percent) or were undecided (4 percent) about their future plans.

Where they are going

The MCPS senior survey asked seniors to list postsecondary colleges and universities they applied to, whether they were accepted or rejected and whether they received financial aid.

As in previous years, seniors in 2000 typically applied to about two colleges and universities, with 79 percent applying to at least one postsecondary school.

The University of Maryland-College Park, with 1,953 applicants, continued to top the list of universities/colleges applied to most frequently, followed by Montgomery College, with 1,220 applicants. Next came the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Towson University, Pennsylvania State University, Salisbury State University, Frostburg State University, University of Delaware and Virginia Polytechnical University, each with more than 200 applicants.

A number of universities moved down the top-25 list, including University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University, James Madison University, New York University and American University. New entries to the top colleges and universities applied to in 2000 included Morgan State University and West Virginia University.

Acceptance rates and financial aid

For the top colleges, MCPS applicants' acceptance rates were generally higher than the national rates of freshmen applying. Exceptions included Towson and Johns Hopkins universities (with MCPS acceptance rates of 68 percent and 33 percent, respectively, about equal to the national rate), and University of Michigan, University of North Carolina and West Virginia University (with acceptance rate of MCPS applicants lower than the national rate). Seventy-five percent of MCPS students who applied to the University of Maryland-College Park were accepted, compared with a 54 percent acceptance rate nationally. Montgomery College has an open admissions policy.

MCPS seniors who reported receiving financial aid from colleges and universities to which they had been accepted ranged from a high of 68 percent at New York University to a low of 22 percent at James Madison University. Fifty-five percent of those accepted to the University of Maryland-College Park received financial aid, as did 31 percent of those accepted to Montgomery College.

Making the grade

Scholastic Assessment Test scores and grade point averages continued to remain competitive at many of the universities and colleges to which MCPS students applied most frequently. For example, the average SAT score of students accepted at the University of Maryland was 1261, with an average unweighted GPA of 3.5 and weighted GPA of 4.0.

Most competitive on MCPS students' list of top-25 favorites were Duke University, with an average 1493 SAT, 3.7 unweighted GPA and 4.4 percent weighted GPA; and Johns Hopkins University, with an average 1423 SAT, 3.8 unweighted GPA and 4.4 weighted GPA.

Only two colleges on the list had average total SAT scores of under 1000: Morgan State University, with an average 908 SAT, 2.7 unweighted GPA and 2.8 weighted GPA; and Montgomery College, with an average 940 SAT and 2.7 GPA (both weighted and unweighted).

Results of the survey, which has taken place each year since 1983, are used by high school counselors to advise sophomores and juniors regarding their postsecondary plans. Parents also use results to help their children make decisions about their future school and career plans.

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