College Enrollment Holds Steady For Recent Burbank Unified Graduates

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Burbank Unified School District office. (Photo By Ross Benson)

Recent graduates of the Burbank Unified School District enrolled in college at a similar rate for Fall 2020 as previous years, bucking the national trend that saw enrollment drop by 21.7%, according to a report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center presented at the December 17 meeting of the Burbank Board of Education.

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“Although many of our students are living at home, they opted for online university enrollment,” commented Sharon Cuseo, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. “I hope they had a good experience and we will see if they persist for the second year.”

National Student Clearinghouse is a national, non-profit, non-governmental organization that tracks the college attendance of recent high school graduates, including those from Burbank Unified. The organization tracks if students maintain enrollment, if they graduated with a degree and how long it took.

“This data is obtained from colleges and universities that enroll 98% of college students,” explained Cuseo. “The current report from the National Student Clearinghouse addresses the number of students enrolled in public and private colleges, the number of students in two-year and four-year institutions, the persistence rates of attendance, the number of students attending each college and the number of college graduates.”

“The combined cohort percentage of BUSD students who enrolled in the fall immediately after graduation is now 74%, which has been a steady number,” Cuseo noted in her report to the Board. “In the most recent year, 2020, 67% enrolled in public institutions and 7% enrolled in private institutions. The percentage of students in the cohort enrolled in college within the first two years is 74%. This number has declined from a high of 87% in 2017.”

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Typically, BUSD’s college enrollment within two years averages 80+%, but this year it was 74%.

Sometimes students will take a year off before attending college. This year, the percentage of college enrollees within two years dropped by more than 10% for Burbank Unified.

“I think that’s directly related to the pandemic,” Cuseo said.

Burbank Unified’s persistence rate remains high at 91%, however.

“Persistence is students who return for the second year of college,” Cuseo explained. “BUSD students at all levels have high levels of persistence, regardless of the type of college. The take-away here is that it is important to start college as soon as possible after graduation. That is when the persistence rate is highest. The current persistence rate is 91%.”

“Once our graduates enroll in college, they tend to stay [for the second year],” she said. “We have always had a really high persistence rate. Our teachers are doing a really good job preparing students for college. That is the single most determining factor if they stay in college – their preparation.”

However, the number of Burbank Unified students who graduate with a degree within six years is 48%. While that number is an improvement from the 2013 rate of 41%, it’s still “not as high as we would like, though,” Cuseo added.

“If a student takes more than six years to graduate, the data suggests it will become more difficult for that student to [complete their education],” she also said.

According to National Student Clearinghouse’s report released on December 10, 37% of students from urban high schools completed a degree within six years, compared to 41 percent from rural schools and 47 percent from suburban schools. About 60% of students who enroll in college graduate with a degree within six years.

For Burbank Unified students, the most popular college enrolled in was Glendale Community College, followed by Pasadena Community College, Los Angeles Valley College and Cal State Northridge. The most popular University of California institutions were Irvine at #6 and UCLA at #8. The most popular Cal States were #15 Cal Poly Pomona and #16 San Diego State University. The most popular private university was #25 in the rankings, USC, which knocked out Woodbury, which has traditionally been the most popular private school for BUSD graduates.

“COVID’s going to throw off the data here a little bit, but really, marked improvement from where we were a few years ago,” commented Board Clerk Steve Ferguson.

“Based on preliminary data, there is little evidence that COVID-19 impacted high school graduation,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “However, the pandemic impacted high school graduates in their immediate college enrollment, and those from high poverty, low income and urban high schools have been hit the hardest. The enrollment gaps appear to be widening because of COVID-19.”

The video and complete agenda of the Burbank Board of Education meeting for December 17 can be found online here.

The Burbank Board of Education is comprised of President Steve Frintner, Vice President Charlene Tabet, Clerk Steve Ferguson and members Dr. Armond Aghakhanian and Dr. Emily Weisberg. More information on the Board can be found online on their webpage.

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