Facing Below-Average Grad Rates, New Brunswick Aims to Help Kids Reach College

New Brunswick High School Credits: Wikimedia Commons

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Jadelyn Flores is bound for the Ivy League.

After she graduates from New Brunswick High School this spring, the teen plans to study sociology, economics or politics at Princeton University. One of the world’s elite schools, Princeton admits just 7 percent of applicants.

Another student in the public school district made the waiting list. And last year, a graduate named Abelardo Cruz Cruz began studying math at Princeton.

Sign Up for E-News

“Each year, we see additional students enrolling in great institutions of higher learning, and we're committed to continuing that success,” New Brunswick Public Schools Superintendent Aubrey Johnson said in a statement announcing the achievements.

But for many students in the Hub City, both college and high-school degrees have been more difficult to obtain.

After the 2014-15 school year, the most recent time period for which numbers are available, 66 percent of New Brunswick students went on to attend a two- or four-year college. The statewide average was 74 percent.

More than half of New Brunswick graduates enrolled in a two-year school, like Middlesex County College, and roughly 45 percent in a college like Rutgers, according to the state.

In 2016, the city’s graduation rate hit almost 70 percent, up from four years earlier by more than 10 points. The overall graduation rate for the state, meanwhile, was 74 percent, still higher than that of New Brunswick.

The number of city students who dropped out of school was 8.6 percent in 2014-15, according to state data. Across New Jersey, that figure was 3.6 percent.

Taken together, these statistics represent the challenges that New Brunswick’s teachers, administrators and guidance counselors are up against.

To try to help kids map out their best possible futures, the district aims to provide guidance tailored to each student, said Barbi Siegel, who oversees school counselors throughout the district.

“We always encourage our students and work with them as best we can,” she told TAPinto New Brunswick. “Every kid is different, and we work with what we have.”

School officials begin to steer students toward college early in their educations through events that teach them about higher education. From there, in middle school, the district pushes activities that are designed to prepare them for college, Siegel said.

Eventually, college representatives visit to chat with older students, she said. They attend seminars on financial aid and work one-on-one with guidance counselors to pinpoint potential careers.

Advisers might then recommend certain classes—like, say, business, fashion or anatomy and physiology—to help kids better determine their interests and goals, she said.

What’s more, New Brunswick partners with institutions like Rutgers, which begins grooming students for the academic big leagues in middle school, and the county college, which accepts credits for certain classes taught in high school, Siegel said.

In Siegel’s seven years in New Brunswick, the district has undertaken an upward climb toward better graduation and college-enrollment rates. But she acknowledged that the need for improvements remains.

In this effort, cases like the Princeton-bound Flores offer a cause for celebration.

“Anybody anywhere getting into Princeton is exciting,” Siegel said. “Princeton is Princeton.”

The graduating class of 2017 is also set to send students to Amherst College in Massachusetts, Penn State, the University of Maryland, Tuskegee University, Bowie State University and Virginia State University, according to the district.

“When you really get to see the success at the end of the road, it’s a good feeling,” Siegel said.

For New Brunswick’s school officials and rising students, however, the road continues.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 22, 2018

TRENTON - Well, the state Legislature passed a budget yesterday. But that matters little in the overall drama, as it now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy and his sharp red pen. The governor still remains as odds with his Democratic counterparts who left a meeting with him yesterday claiming no progress. He's "completely dishonest with us," charges Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The Jaffe Briefing - June 21, 2018

TRENTON - No one questions that the state pension system is a mess. And that's why some proposed legislation is getting a critical eye. Politico says the Assembly is set to vote on a bill today that it claims is "expressly written" to fatten the pensions of Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) and state Sen. James Beach (D-Camden) without them having to ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 20, 2018

STATEWIDE - What? So you are saying the state's pawn shops, second-hand stores and scrap metal yards are mob-infested? How could that possibly be? Well, just ask the scrappy State Commission of Investigation, which issued the 100-page report yesterday detailing how the mob is encouraging drug addicts to steal items to fuel this in-the-dark industry. Not only are these ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 19, 2018

TRENTON - It is June. That must mean our state lawmakers are yelling at each other over the proposed state budget, which must be adopted by the end of the month or government shuts down. Some media is refraining from coverage of the daily blow-by-blow, as the typical resident just assumes taxes will go up, no matter what. But, here is the latest. Gov. Phil Murphy has his proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, June 24, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

York Revolution vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Sports


Sun, June 24, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Long Island Ducks vs. Somerset Patriots

Arts & Entertainment Sports


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to " Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

City recognizes New Brunswick ball player inducted into women’s Hall of Fame

June 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Chris Dailey grew up in the city, and played basketball for St. Peter's High School and  Rutgers University, and was on the team that won a national AIAW championship her senior year in college.

She became an assistant coach at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., then was an assistant to Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz before becoming an assistant coach on ...


New Brunswick journalism teacher offers thanks

June 22, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

As the year comes to a close, I want to offer you my sincere thanks for how you positively impacted my students this year.

In their end of year reflections, the students recounted what it meant for them to get their stories published.  Assignments were no longer something just connected to a grade, it was also connected to their passion.

The positive ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 20, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities will be ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...