Washington Lags Behind in Chance for College by Age 19

The Postsecondary Education Opportunity recently released a report ranking states by the chance for college by age 19. That is, the percent of students who attend college immediately after high school. Washington ranked 47th at 35.3%, and was listed as a national laggard.

Chance for College by Age 19 = High School Graduation Rate x College Continuation Rate

Washington was ranked as high as 8th in 1986, but steadily lost ground and then has hovered in the mid-forties for the last 10 years.


There are several factors that contribute to Washington’s low rank. One is the degree to which we don’t align our high school graduation requirements with college entrance requirements. The State Board of Education is working with the Legislature to pass HB 2051 which would expand the educational program to provide all students the opportunity to complete career and college ready requirements.


According to the report, in the fall of 2010, 45.6% of all 19-year-olds were enrolled in a public or private, 2-year or 4-year college or university somewhere in the U.S. (that is the highest enrollment rate on record in data reported since 1986). Looking at state specific data, the chance for college by age 19 in 2010 ranged from 26.3% in Nevada to 61.5% in Minnesota.

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2 Responses to Washington Lags Behind in Chance for College by Age 19

  1. Janice Leitzke says:

    Absolutely high school requirements should be aligned with college entrance. I am a beleiver that we, as a society, should create opportunities for people and the individual has the right to decide amongst those opportunities.
    Washington State lagging behind is a shame. If it is true that alignment would help cure this problem then that is the problem we should work to solve. I wonder if that is the primary reason and what other factors may also feed this problem.

  2. Nancy M. MIller says:

    Shame, shame, shame. How can Washingtonians look their children or the world in the eye when this is all the effort we put into providing for the future? What a humiliation!
    What an abandonment of values.
    And the key is not the alignment of standards, more rules and more bureaucracy — the key is more spaces in higher ed, and more passion in elementary and high school.

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