On kidsdata.org, college eligibility is measured by the number and percentage of 12th grade graduates who complete all the courses required for entrance to the University of California (UC) and/or California State University (CSU) with a grade of "C" or better. This indicator also is provided by race/ethnicity. Course completion represents only a portion of the entrance requirements for UC or CSU; not all students complete the other requirements, including taking ACT or SAT tests and maintaining an adequate overall grade point average.
Higher educational attainment generally leads to more employment opportunities, higher earning potential, and is even associated with better health (1). Given that educational attainment is a strong predictor of future well being, it is important to ensure that all students have access to the resources needed for college preparation. College eligibility rates are influenced by the availability of various resources, including the courses necessary for UC/CSU entrance, school counselors, and qualified teachers (2). Low-income students and students of color often have less access to these resources (2).
Although college completion is correlated with better career potential, many young people find personal and financial fulfillment through other means, including military service, vocational training, and work.
For more information about college eligibility, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
1. Child Trends Data Bank. (2013). Educational attainment: Indicators on children and youth. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=educational-attainment
2. Oakes, et al. (2006). Removing the roadblocks: Fair College opportunities for all California students. UC ACCORD/UCLA IDEA Institute. Retrieved from:
To graduate from high school eligible for college, young people need access to high quality education beginning in early childhood, access to rigorous college preparatory courses taught by qualified teachers, and counseling about preparing for and applying to college (1, 3, 4). School districts, counties, states, and the federal government can pursue policies that ensure access to these resources for all students, particularly those who face the greatest barriers to college readiness: low-income students, students of color, English learners, and students whose parents did not go to college (1, 3).
According to research and subject experts, policies that could influence college readiness include:
- Aligning standards, curricula, and assessments from preschool through college (1, 2)
- Ensuring access to college preparatory courses for all students; some school districts are aligning their graduation requirements with the courses required for UC and CSU admission (3)
- Responding to struggling students with comprehensive support programs that integrate academic and social and emotional support (3, 4)
- Requiring that all middle and high schools educate students and their families about college requirements and options for paying for college by ensuring an effective ratio of qualified counselors to students (3, 5)
For more policy ideas and research on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit http://toolbox.pathwaystocollege.net for more information on best practices.
Sources for this narrative:
1. National Governors’ Association. (2010). P-16 Alignment. Retrieved from: http://www.nga.org/cms/home/federal-relations/nga-key-committee-issues/page-ecw-issues/col2-content/main-content-list/p-16-alignment.html
2. Jobs for the Future. (2010). College and career ready graduation: Strengthening the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Retrieved from: http://www.jff.org/publications/education/college-and-career-ready-graduation-stre/1063
3. Oakes, et al. (2006). Removing the roadblocks: Fair College opportunities for all California students. UC ACCORD/UCLA IDEA Institute. Retrieved from: http://idea.gseis.ucla.edu/publications/documents/removing-the-roadblocks-to-college-report
4. Pathways to College Network, Institute for Higher Education Policy. (n.d.). Social support: An essential ingredient to success. Retrieved from: http://www.pathwaystocollege.net/pdf/support.pdf
5. Cunningham et al. (2007). From aspirations to action: The role of Middle School parents in making the dream of College a reality. Institute for Higher Education Policy. Retrieved from: http://www.ihep.org/Publications/publications-detail.cfm?id=94
In 2011, 36.9% of California’s public high school graduates had completed the courses required for University of California and/or California State University entrance, with a grade of "C" or better. This figure has increased from 33.9% in 2008. In only two counties, 50% or more of high school graduates completed these requirements in 2011, while in 14 counties, less than 25% of graduates were college eligible. Among racial/ethnic groups statewide, the percentages ranged from 24.8% for American Indian/Alaska Native graduates to 63% for Asian American graduates in 2011.