Community colleges are more popular for Md. students than 4-year campuses

June 02, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron FTC | Thomas W. Waldron FTC,Sun Staff Writer

Two-thirds of the 1992 graduates of the state's public high schools who continued their education in Maryland chose a community college rather than a four-year institution, according to a report released yesterday.

In the Baltimore area, the proportion was highest in Harford County, where nearly four out of every five public school graduates who went on to a Maryland college picked a community college, the report by the Maryland Higher Education Commission found.

"Those numbers blew me out of the water," Shaila R. Aery, the state higher education secretary, said of the community college enrollment figures. "That was very high."

The recession, which was in full force in 1992, and accompanying tuition increases at the state's four-year colleges probably steered many students to community colleges, Dr. Aery said.

The numbers are part of the commission's second annual "Student Outcome and Achievement Report," which tracks Maryland's public school graduates at 27 public colleges and three private institutions: the Johns Hopkins University, Western Maryland College and Villa Julie College.

The report tracked 16,883 public school graduates who went on to Maryland colleges in 1992. Public and private high schools graduated about 45,500 students that year, many of whom went to college out of state or did not enroll in college.

The report's statistics are supposed to tell high school administrators and principals how their graduates fare in college.

Community colleges, many of which were established in the 1950s and 1960s, are attracting many of their graduates' children, said Michael Carey, dean of institutional advancement at Catonsville Community College.

"I think we're beginning to see enough older adults who got their careers going on the community college route and who recognize what a quality education it can be for their children," Mr. Carey said.

The report also indicated, however, that community colleges had more difficulty than four-year colleges did in keeping their freshmen enrolled.

At Baltimore City Community College, for example, 72 percent of freshmen from Maryland high schools returned for their second semester. By contrast, nearly all of the four-year colleges in the state reported that more than 90 percent of their freshmen returned for a second semester.

The report also found that large numbers of public school graduates are not prepared for college-level academics.

Statewide, 36 percent of graduates needed remedial help in mathematics, 22 percent in English and 21 percent in reading, the report said. Community colleges, which have open admissions, reported much higher percentages of students needing extra help.

Those numbers are in line with national findings, Dr. Aery said.

"What's important here is that the numbers are fed back into the high schools," Dr. Aery said.

About 18 percent of the 525 graduates of Baltimore public schools who attended public four-year colleges needed remedial help in English. By comparison, fewer than 5 percent of Howard County graduates needed such help.

The report also tracked freshman year performance county by county. For example, in the Baltimore area, graduates of public schools in Carroll and Harford counties had the highest grade-point averages at the University of Maryland College Park -- 2.7 on a 4-point scale.

Baltimore graduates had the lowest grade-point average at the state's flagship campus, 2.4. Graduates from the other three Baltimore suburban counties had averages between 2.61 and 2.65.

Overall, the grade-point average for Marylandpublic school graduates in their freshman year at College Park was 2.61.

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