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Many area high school graduates head to college
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Gainesville High School science teacher Dane Robar lectures Tuesday during an Advanced Placement chemistry class. Many students take Advanced Placement classes so they can be better candidates for college acceptance. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Going to college

Listed below are each school system’s most popular institutions for postsecondary enrollment, 2000-07.

Gainesville

  1. Gainesville State College (259 students)
  2. University of Georgia (120)
  3. Lanier Technical College (110)
  4. North Georgia College & State University (109)
  5. Georgia Southern University (35)

Hall County

  1. Gainesville State College (2,032 students)
  2. Lanier Technical College (664)
  3. North Georgia College & State University (509)
  4. University of Georgia (253)
  5. Brenau University (133)

Source: Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Visit www.gaosa.org for the full report.

High school counselors spend countless hours coaching students through the college application process that hopefully transitions them from a high school classroom to a college lecture hall.

Where every student ends up after high school graduation, however, has often remained a mystery.

"The tough part is tracking these kids down after they leave us," said North Hall High professional school counselor Kathy Oxford. "It is darn near impossible."

But the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement recently released a report that tracks how many of Georgia’s public high school graduates go to college and where they enroll. The study is the first of its kind and includes details for Georgia students at out-of-state and private colleges.

"This analysis provides much needed information to education stakeholders across Georgia," said GOSA Executive Director Kathleen Mathers. "For the first time, we know not only how many students went to a technical college or university system institution in Georgia, but we also know how many students went to schools like Auburn, Emory, Notre Dame and Benedict College."

The report shows that 64.7 percent of Georgia’s 2008 high school graduates enrolled in a postsecondary institution. While 77 percent of 2008 graduates enrolled in a public college or university in Georgia, nearly a quarter of them attended a private postsecondary institution in Georgia or left the state for college.

Local high schools report even higher numbers of their 2009 class continued their education after graduation.

Kay Holleman, a guidance counselor at Gainesville High School, said now more than ever counselors are helping students to realize some type of college education is key to improving students’ quality of life in a tough economy.

"With a high school diploma today, it’s really hard to get a good job. Having a degree from a two-year, four-year or technical program is going to help you have a better lifestyle," she said.

Oxford said about 74 percent of North Hall’s latest graduating class went to some sort of college, which was down for the school, even though financial aid representatives helped guide students through the financial aid application process. Oxford said 41 percent of recent graduates went to a four-year college, 26 percent to a two-year college and 8 percent went to a technical college.

Holleman said 85 percent of Gainesville High’s 2009 class continued their education after college. She said 43 percent went to a four-year school, 29 percent went to a two-year school and 10 percent went to a technical college.

Holleman said she’s confident Gainesville High’s participation in GACollege 411’s apply online program that toured schools last November helped more students successfully apply to college. She said more than 90 percent of the recent graduating class applied online to at least one college that day.

"You have to apply to participate and we were accepted because we are a school of diversity and they wanted to see if it would affect acceptance," Holleman said. "And it did."

While Georgia’s research schools — such as Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Georgia State University — remain students’ most popular choices, the governor’s office report said technical colleges are also a popular choice for Georgia’s graduates, primarily for students from smaller communities. In fact, a technical college ranked among the top 10 most popular institutions in 165 school systems for graduates of the classes of 2000-07. A technical college was the most popular choice for 62 of those school systems.

"They don’t have to go to a four-year college," Holleman said of students. "We are saying we want them to be enrolled in a program that will give them security."

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