Kodiak’s College Graduation Rates Lag Behind National Average

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Maggie Wall/KMXT

It is often said that Kodiak has a very high number of college graduates compared to its population. Not so, according to a report in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The interactive web page shows that Kodiak has fewer adults holding a college degree than the national average.

KMXT’s Maggie Wall has more on those statistics and what the Alaska Legislature is doing to change things.

-((College Grads 4:04 "According to…at that time.SOC"))

To check out the interactive page on college graduates all over the country, go to the link on our website, KMXT dot org.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the national average for college graduates in a community is 27.5 percent. Kodiak has a college graduate rate well below that at 20 point 7 percent. Other regions also record below-average numbers.

Rates from around the state include:

21 point 4 percent for Kenai

22 percent for Valdez-Cordova

19 point 9 percent for Mat-Su; and

19 point 4 percent for the North Slope

At least one region of Alaska surpasses the national average for adults who hold a college degree. That is Juneau with 35 point 8 percent.

The report cites the percentage of adults in the community with college degrees-it doesn’t say where they got those degrees-but it could just as well reflect on the number of Alaskans who graduate from college, as opposed to those who move here already having a degree.

A 2008 University of Alaska report on how well the university is doing states Alaska has among the lowest high school and college graduation rates in the U.S. And, it continues, many who do graduate from high school are not ready for college.

If that doesn’t change, the report warns, more and more Alaskans won’t be equipped to earn a living and will be more likely to rely on welfare and other social services.

The state’s low college graduate rate is no news to Alaska’s educators and legislators. That problem was part of the focus of a special Legislative Task Force on Higher Education and Career Readiness which was formed last year and worked over legislative interim months. Last month the task force provided the legislature with options on how to correct the problem of low college graduation rates.

Kodiak’s Senator Gary Stevens is the Task Force Co-Chair. He commented at a recent press availability recorded by Gavel to Gavel:

-((College Grads :39 "We also had…important part of that."

The lack of scholarship money was part of the impetus for the Governor’s Alaska Merit Scholarships, which will be made available to high school students going to college this fall.

But in order to get the scholarship, students must have good grades in challenging classes. The education task force also recommended including a program which awards scholarships based on need, not just grades.

All those scholarships require money-and a long-term commitment by the legislature. And that is just one of many the issues the legislature is grappling with this session.

But money isn’t the only reason for Alaska’s poor college education rates. So fixing it will require more than scholarships.

Back to the statistics…after checking a number of years, it appears that there may have been truth to Kodiak’s high college graduate rate rumor. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, back in 1990, 21 point 5 percent of Kodiak residents had a college degree. At the time, the national rate was 20 point 3 percent.

I’m Maggie Wall

LINKS:

UAA Report on how the university is doing

http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/publications/researchsumm/UA_RS12.pdf

The Chronicle of Higher Education on Percentage of College Graduates by County

http://chronicle.com/article/Adults-With-College-Degrees-in/125995/

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