LIVINGSTON, NJ – Although on the face of it, graduates of Livingston High School’s (LHS) Class of 2017 are moving on to institutions of higher learning at about the same impressive rate as they did in past years, slight differences in post-secondary pursuits are beginning to shine through, according to a presentation given by Director of School Counseling Services Sinead Crews at Monday’s Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) meeting.
The nearly 450 students who graduated in June submitted 3,740 applications to 369 different colleges and universities, which was a slight increase from the prior year’s number of 3,500 applications. However, similar to prior years, 96 percent of students have gone on to post-secondary institutions while 3 percent moved directly into a job, enlisted in the military or were admitted to a gap year program (with females constituting the majority of that 3 percent).
According to the presentation, there was a very slight increase, year over year, of students who went on to attend a four-year college (405 students in 2017 vs. 401 students in 2016) and a similar decrease in those attending a two-year college (27 vs. 30, respectively).
Crews said it was also worth noting the slight increase in the percentage of males attending a four-year college (89 percent in 2017 compared to 86 percent in 2016). Simultaneously, there was a slight decrease for female students, with 92 percent attending a four-year college in 2017, compared to 94 percent from the year before.
Additionally, the percentage of special education students attending four-year colleges increased from 64 percent to 65 percent.
“I think this is reflective of the conversations we’ve been having for several years now in the Counseling Department in terms of focusing on best fit for students for their post-secondary plans,” said Crews.
Although there are similarities between the specific colleges and universities that four or more LHS graduates of both 2016 and 2017 went on to attend—with institutions like Rutgers University-New Brunswick (41 students attending), County College of Morris (18 students), Syracuse University and University of Delaware (13 students each) and Pennsylvania State University (11 students), leading the pack—several new schools not previously represented on the list made an appearance in 2017.
These schools included: Monmouth University (six students); Carnegie Mellon University, Muhlenberg College and Stockton University (five students each); and Elon University, Stephens Institute of Technology and Quinnipiac University (four students each).
Although 23 of the 32 colleges and universities most highly attended by LHS grads are located in the northeast, LHS students are now also migrating toward the mid-west and the south areas of the country. Schools that topped these lists include: Indiana University at Bloomington (ten students), University of Michigan (nine), Washington University in St. Louis (six) and The Ohio State University (four) in the mid-west; and The University of Tampa (nine), University of Miami (five), Elon University (four), Tulane University (four) and Vanderbilt University (four) in the south.
The counseling department plans to continue using strategies that include the application of the Naviance system for 7th-through 12th-graders (a system designed to marry student strengths to the most beneficial post-secondary choices for them); counselor visits to colleges and universities; regional information sessions for interested college admissions counselors to attend; and evening programs for students in grade 10 and up and their parents.
Beyond the consideration of traditional college programs, the department will also continue to provide opportunities to partner with military recruiters, recruiters from overseas colleges, and other alternative options.
During the presentation on Monday, the LBOE asked Superintendent of Schools Christina Steffner whether the counseling department tracks students who have moved on to two-and four-year colleges to see what becomes of them in the next stage of their lives.
“We’re hoping with the use of [the data in] New Jersey Smart, we’ll be able to see how many students graduate in four versus five years and utilize other similar measures to track the progress of our graduates such as whether they go on to college, a career in the military, or other pursuits,” said Steffner.
In response to a final question regarding stress reduction for students and parents going through this transition process, Crews said, “I think we—collectively—have to breathe.”
“This is a big and scary process for every single student and parent,” said Crews. “Students need to be there for their peers and their friends, to talk with and to process with. At the same time, they need to put their blinders up so they can focus on themselves, what their goals and interests are and how they can take care of themselves in a way that best benefits them at the end of the day."