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Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 12:28pm

Study: Not Enough Finish College

A new study shows Georgia ranks among the top-10 states nationally in high school graduates enrolling for college. But once they get there, they take too long to finish or drop out.

The non-profit Southern Regional Education Board says only 50 percent of students are earning their degree in college, and too many do it in six years time instead of the average four.

Crystal Collins is the lead researcher for the study. She says the extra time puts more strain on the state’s financially-ailing HOPE scholarship program.

“It’s a blessing and a curse the good that’s going on in Georgia, because you are enrolling more students in college--72 percent of recent high school graduates going to college. It’s a wonderful statistic, but the majority of those students are qualifying for HOPE. How do you continue to fund them if you’re funding full tuition and fees.”

The report also found that only 27 percent of Georgia’s adult workforce holds a Bachelor’s degree or certificate. That officials say, is a number that must improve as employers demand more educated workers.

The non-profit Southern Regional Education Board says fewer than half of ninth-graders are classified as having a “reasonable chance” of getting to college. That’s below the national average.

SREB's Jeff Gagne says there's a growing problem earlier than high school graduation. He says there needs to be better qualified students coming through the pipeline into college to meet workforce demands.

“If kids aren’t adequately prepared in middle school for that transition to high school, they have a hard time. And if they’re not prepared adequately for ninth grade and they can’t be successful in high school on-time, they’re not going to graduate on-time and it’s more likely they may drop out, and probably will have a hard time getting ready for college.”

The SREB's new state-by-state report grades its 16-member states' progress in higher education.

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