The class of 2020 at Hawaii’s public high schools managed to graduate at a record rate after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last spring, but far fewer of those graduates enrolled in college, new data shows. Just 50% of last year’s graduating class went straight to college, down from 55% the previous year. The drop was even more pronounced for students of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ancestry.
“The negative effects of the pandemic on educational progress, in general, are not equal across socioeconomic and demographic groups, ” said Stephen Schatz, executive director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. “In particular, economically disadvantaged, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders saw some pretty precipitous declines in the college-going rate for the class of 2020.”
“We continuously work to smooth the pathways for Hawaii’s public school graduates to advance themselves by enrolling in a University of Hawaii campus, ” UH President David Lassner said. “Next Steps to Your Future is an amazing program for the classes of 2021 and 2020 that provides free support, encouragement, and a head-start on college to help our recent high school graduates continue on pathways that lead to better futures.”
The Next Steps program helped guide graduating seniors to post-secondary education and training, connecting them with a dedicated adviser and offering a chance to take free career exploration classes at UH community colleges in the summer. Last year, 2, 154 graduates received support services through the program, and they could take 120 different courses that carried college credits.
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