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State: Only 52% of ’21 Tennessee grads went right to college

May 26, 2022 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state report says nearly half of Tennessee public high school seniors in the class of 2021 did not attend college or technical school right after graduating.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission report says the college-going rate has dropped from 63.8% for the 2017 class to 52.8% for the 2021 class.

Officials pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic while noting a drop of 9 percentage points from the 2019 class to the 2021 class.

Nationally, freshman enrollment dropped 9.2% between 2019 and 2021, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Current Term Enrollment Estimates.

Black, Hispanic and white women saw decreases in Tennessee from 2020 to 2021 that exceeded the statewide drop of 4 percentage points.

Overall rates for Black and Hispanic students in Tennessee trailed those of white students.

The report raises concerns about attaining the state’s Drive to 55 goal, which sets a goal of 55% of working-age people with a postsecondary credential by 2025. The number was 46.8% in 2019.