College Attendance Rising Among Maine High School Graduates

Aug 1, 2014

College attendance among Maine high school graduates is on the rise, according to a new report from the Portland-based Mitchell Institute.

Researchers are especially encouraged that the improvement has matched gains in the state's high school graduation rate.

Over the past seven years, Maine's high school graduation rate has jumped from 80 to 86 percent.

"To me it's sort of counterintuitive," says Lisa Plimpton, who heads up research at The Mitchell Institute. "You would think if you're scooping up more kids and getting them to finish high school, when they wouldn't even have finished high school before, you would think the rate of going to college would actually drop."

But instead, the opposite has happened. During that same period, the college attendance rate among high school graduates in Maine also went up — from 57 to 62 percent.

Plimpton attributes this dynamic, in part, to increased academic rigor at many Maine high schools.

But while the overall trend is positive, the research also shows that far fewer young men and poor students are going to college compared to young women and graduates, who are better off financially.