In Michigan, path to elite colleges flows through richer high schools (interactive map)

In Michigan, path to elite colleges flows through richer high schools (interactive map)
September 18, 2017 Bridge Magazine

The school year is barely underway, and parents throughout Michigan already are knee-deep in the college application planning process.

Where should their children apply? Can they get in? A two-year community college or Michigan State?

Bridge Magazine took an exhaustive look at state data showing where nearly 102,000 high school graduates from 2016 attended college. The records are instructive because they reveal

enrollment patterns within schools and districts and among different demographic groups.

The data demonstrate yet again that not all high schools are created equal in preparing students for future success. In some districts, nearly every graduate enrolled in college. And in others, very few did.

For instance, high schools in Oakland County, one of the wealthiest counties in the state, sent 740 students to the University of Michigan, the state’s most selective public school. That’s the most of any county and, overall, 5 percent of all the county’s grads went to U-M.

In contrast, Wayne County, which has both wealthy suburbs and the high-poverty district of Detroit, saw just 2.4 percent of grads head to U-M.

As it is with student test scores, poverty –  and wealth –  were predictors of success. Detroit students had far fewer attend college than those across the state, and charter schools in poorer areas sent fewer students than those in wealthier areas.

First, some the good news: 62 percent high school graduates are going to college, including nearly 40 percent headed to four-year schools. Twenty-three percent enrolled in two-year colleges.

But Michigan has a dismal rank in the overall percentage of adults with a college degree (27.8 percent, 31st in the nation) and many have said the state must increasethat percentage to bolster the state’s economy.

Below are a few of the takeaways from the data. Use the interactive map above to see where and how many children from high school enrolled in one of the state’s 15 public colleges and universities, what percentage of grads enrolled in any college and what percent of the college-bound are headed to a in-state or national “selective” college or university, which is defined as one with rigorous admissions standards, typically accepting those with score in the top 20 percent of admissions tests.

In Michigan, eight colleges and universities are considered selective: Calvin, Hillsdale, Hope and Kalamazoo colleges; Kettering, Michigan State, Michigan Tech universities and UM-Ann Arbor.

Many paths to summit (but wealth helps)

A handful of high schools around Michigan send a majority of their college-bound tohighly selective schools such as those in the elite Ivy League, the University of Michigan and Michigan State.

Indeed, a map of where most U-M and MSU students come from in Michigan is basically a map of the wealthier areas of the state. Experts say those who make more money are more likely college-educated themselves, a predictor of a child’s post-high school path.

Perhaps the most successful school at producing the most graduates ready to attend the best schools is the International Academy of Oakland County, located on three campuses with students coming from 13 districts. It offers the rigorous international baccalaureate diploma.

More than two-thirds of its 307 college-bound were headed to a “selective” school, including 84 heading to U-M, the most from any one high school. (Northville high sent 76 students and Troy and Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor each sent 70.)

Three IA students were headed to Yale and one each to Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell and Brown; three were headed to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and others to the University of Chicago, Williams College and Northwestern.

Statewide, just 19 percent of college-bound enrolled in a select college.

But only a few IA students are considered poor –  just 5 percent qualified for a subsidized lunch, a fraction of the 40 percent eligible statewide.

Two other baccalaureate programs did extremely well. Over half of the college-bound at Washtenaw International High School headed to select colleges, as did half of the grads the International Academy of Macomb County.

Other high schools with large proportions heading to select schools: All four Ann Arbor high schools (Community, Pioneer, Skyline and Huron), Seaholm High School in Birmingham, East Grand Rapids High School, Grosse Pointe South High School and Bloomfield Hills High School.

Charter schools struggle, succeed

All told, the state’s charter schools send far fewer graduates to college, 47 percent compared to 62 percent statewide. But charters also serve a student body that is poorer – roughly two-thirds are eligible for a free or reduced lunch, compared to 41 percent of students at traditional public schools.

And though some charters have very low rates of college enrollment, others have high ones, such as Star International Academy in Dearborn, where 86 percent of the 95 graduates headed to college. Arbor Preparatory Academy in Ypsilanti and Central Academy in Ann Arbor, as well as Black River Public School in Holland all sent more than 80 percent of grads to college.

The two largest charter high schools, Old Redford (46 percent) and Cesar Chavez (39 percent) in Detroit, saw fewer than half of students enroll in either a four-year or a two-year college or university, well below the state average.

Kings of Detroit? Sparty on!

Detroit schools, both traditional and charters, are sending far more students to East Lansing than Ann Arbor.

All told, nearly 250 graduates of Detroit high schools enrolled at Michigan State in 2016, nearly five times as many as did at U-M (54).

Leading the way were 65 grads from Cass Tech and 60 from Renaissance High, the magnet school jewels of the Detroit Public Schools Community District. Another 14 grads from the district’s King High School made their way to MSU.

U-M picked up 16 grads from Cass Tech and 13 from Renaissance, as well as 14 from charter schools in the city.

More good news: Of those headed to college, 63 percent of Detroit college-bound graduates are headed to a four-year school, well above the state average of 40 percent.

But the bad news is just 41 percent of all grads are headed to college of any type, well below the statewide average.

Other top destinations for Detroit students: Wayne State (168), Eastern Michigan (146) and Western Michigan (96). Upper Peninsula schools were not a big draw: just 4 went to Michigan Tech, three to Northern Michigan and none to Lake Superior State.

Battle of Green and Blue, part II

All told, MSU drew 4,719 of its incoming freshmen from across the state, coming from 482 public high schools. U-M, which has a far higher proportion of out-of-state students, enrolled 2,732 from 434 Michigan public high schools.

MSU draws 70 percent of its student body from Michigan, compared to 51 percent for U-M.

At most schools, more students headed to Michigan State. But at 134, there were more headed to U-M. The biggest imbalance is where you’d expect it – Ann Arbor. Pioneer (70-29), Huron (57-21) and Skyline (42-27) high schools.

But MSU led big in a few places as well, including  East Lansing High School (51-8), Clarkston (58-20), Stoney Creek in Rochester (68-32) and Grosse Pointe North (52-16) high schools.

Magnet schools draw top students

Magnet schools in Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Detroit are doing what you’d expect – attracting students who succeed and get into the best colleges.

Graduates at Grand Rapids City Middle/High School did as well as peers from the city’s wealthier suburbs – East Grand Rapids and the Forest Hills district’s three high schools. Eighty-eight percent of City Middle grads headed to college and more than 41 percent went to a select four-year school. Twelve of the 67 college-bound grads were headed to Ann Arbor; seven to MSU – and one to Harvard.

Saginaw’s Arts and Sciences Academy saw nearly 90 percent of grads head to college – and 82 percent of those went to a four-year college or university. A third of the college bound were headed to the state and nation’s best schools – MSU, U-M, Michigan Tech and Kettering in Michigan, but also Boston University and Emerson College in Boston.

And in Detroit, two magnet schools, which draw from across the city, sent hundreds of students to college in 2016 and more than a third of the college bound at Cass Tech and Renaissance were headed to select schools, though Renaissance (87 percent) had more graduates go to college than Cass Tech (57 percent); just 32 percent of all other DPS grads went to college in the year after graduation.

Kalamazoo reaps rewards of Promise

The two public high schools in Kalamazoo, where more than half the students are poor, are sending far more graduates to college than schools with similar poverty levels.

The reason may be obvious: the city’s schoolchildren have benefitted from the Kalamazoo Promise since 2005. It offers to pay the college tuition of every graduate, depending on how long they were enrolled in the district.

Both Loy Norrix and Central high schools sent more than 70 percent of grads to college, well above the rate (54 percent)  for schools with similarly poor student bodies.

Regional universities

Michigan’s colleges and universities attract students from across the state. But some universities draw more heavily than others from their own regions and offering a chance at higher education that might not be there otherwise.

At Saginaw Valley State University just outside Saginaw, nearly 70 percent of incoming Michigan students in 2016 came from schools within 75 miles of the school. At Ferris State, north east of Grand Rapids, more than half of the Michigan students came from schools within that range.

At Oakland University, just east of Pontiac, 95 percent of students come from within 75 miles; however, that range covers the most populated region in the state as well.

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