17% of college-ready students don't enroll

Enrollment rates vary a bit by racial group

Many students the ACT deems well-prepared for the first year of college don't end up enrolling, according to a new report from the testing agency.

The study looked at which academic next steps the 1.92 million students who took the ACT and graduated high school in 2015 went on to in the fall of 2015.

According to the ACT, a student must earn the minimum "college readiness" benchmark score on their test subject to have about a 75% chance of earning a C or higher and a 50% chance of earning a B or higher in a first-year college course of the corresponding subject.

Overall, 67% of students taking the ACT in 2015 continued on to college. But 17% of students who met the college-readiness benchmarks in all four ACT subjects—earning at least an 18 in English, a 22 in reading, a 23 in science, and a 22 in math—did not end up going to college. And 22% of students who hit the benchmarks in three of four subjects did not enroll. 

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These rates varied across racial groups. Of students who hit all four benchmarks:

  • 22% of American Indian students did not enroll;
  • 19% of Hispanic students did not enroll;
  • 18% of African American students did not enroll; and
  • 16% of white students did not enroll.

However, 23% of students who failed to meet any of the college readiness benchmarks enrolled at four-year schools (ACT, "College Choice Report 2015,"accessed 7/18; Heitin, "High School Beyond," Education Week, 7/14). 

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What it really means to be 'college ready'

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