Survey of 2003 Grads Shows Plans to Attend College

April 26, 2004
The majority of last year's Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) graduates planned to head off to college, according to the Class of 2003 High School Senior Exit Survey.

The survey of postsecondary plans of graduating seniors in the Class of 2003 showed that more than three-fourths (77.7 percent) applied to at least one postsecondary college or university, with the largest numbers heading for the University of Maryland or Montgomery College.

Of the 9,486 seniors eligible for graduation in 2003, 8361 (88 percent) completed the survey, prepared by the Office of Shared Accountability.

Two-Thirds Plan for Four-Year College

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of the respondents planned to attend four-year colleges full time, and another 4 percent planned to attend four-year colleges part time. About one-fourth of the seniors planned to attend two-year colleges either full time (19 percent) or part time (7.4 percent). Another 6.6 percent planned to obtain full-time employment; 3 percent planned to attend trade, business, or technical school; 3.6 percent planned to enter the military; and 3.4 percent were undecided.

For college-bound students in the Class of 2003, business (30.7 percent), communications (22.9 percent), engineering and scientific research (22.8 percent), and medicine and bioscience (21.3 percent) were the most popular fields of study. More than one-fourth of the class (26.7 percent) indicated that a high school course influenced their choice of field. The largest percentage of respondents indicated that their parents (34.8) had influenced their choice of field of study or work, although 34.3 percent indicated that their choice was self-directed.

Strong High School Preparation

In the area of work skills and working with others, more than 80 percent of the responding seniors said their high school had prepared them well in several areas, including both speaking and writing so that others understand, working with others of diverse backgrounds, and working as a team member. In the area of decision-making skills, four out of five seniors (79.7 percent) rated preparation for learning to solve problems as “excellent” or “good.” Seniors also were positive in ratings of their high school program's preparation in computer technology skills.

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 typically applied to an average of three colleges and universities.

The University of Maryland-College Park, with 2,045 applicants, continued to top the list of universities and colleges applied to most frequently, followed by Montgomery College, with 1,681 applicants. Next came Towson University, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Pennsylvania State University, Salisbury University, Frostburg State University, University of Delaware, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and St. Mary's College. MCPS students had a 72 percent acceptance rate at the University of Maryland. Acceptance rates for MCPS students at these and the other top 25 colleges of choice were, in general, higher than national acceptance rates.

Competitive SAT Scores

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 MCPS students accepted at the University of Maryland was1283 (up from an average of 1261 the previous year), with an average unweighted GPA of 3.5 and weighted GPA of 4.0.

In the top 25 schools to which students applied, Johns Hopkins had the highest average SAT (1417) for students accepted from MCPS, followed by the University of Pennsylvania at 1396 and Georgetown University at 1388. MCPS students accepted at Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University had the highest unweighted GPA at 3.8 (with weighted GPAs of 4.2, 4.3 and 4.2, respectively).

Aside from Montgomery College, which has an open admissions policy, the highest percentage of MCPS applicants among the 25 most popular schools was accepted at West Virginia University (97 percent), followed by Pennsylvania State University (94 percent), and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (90 percent). The lowest percentage (27 percent) was accepted at Georgetown University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Results of the survey, which has been conducted annually since 1983, are used by high school counselors to advise students regarding their postsecondary plans.

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