More School District 51 seniors interested in college, survey finds

The Great Outdoors

Nearly two-thirds of the School District 51 senior class of 2011 plans to attend a four-year college or university this fall, according to an exit survey conducted by the district this spring.

Sixty-three percent of seniors said they plan to pursue a four-year degree or more after high school, up from 51 percent for the class of 2010, 48 percent for the class of 2009 and 46 percent for the class of 2008.

“It’s a good sign we’re at least getting students prepared for post-secondary education,” said Bill Larsen, executive director of high schools for District 51.

Almost 30 percent of seniors prepared for post-high school education by taking an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate class in high school, 11 percent took one or more classes at Mesa State College during high school, and 16.5 percent took one or more classes at Western Colorado Community College.

Twelve percent of the combined 2011 graduating class of Central, Fruita Monument, Gateway, Grand Junction, Palisade and R-5 high schools planned to attend a two-year or technical school.

Another 22.7 percent plan to start a job, 7.2 percent will go into the military and 1 percent plan to pursue an apprenticeship.

The remaining students had other plans or were undecided.

The senior survey asked several new questions this year, including how many service hours students volunteered, which extracurricular activities they participated in and what they felt encouraged to do in high school.

Thirty-one percent said they volunteered more than 70 hours to community service projects, while 27 percent volunteered 10 or fewer hours.

Athletics was the most popular extracurricular activity, with 44 percent of the 1,259 survey respondents saying they played sports in high school.

Twenty-nine percent participated in school clubs, 17 percent participated in band or orchestra, 9 percent participated in choir, 7 percent were involved in drama and 4 percent joined speech or debate teams.

Larsen said certain survey results pleased him, including 89.4 percent of seniors saying they felt safe at most school functions and activities.

But he’s concerned about other answers, such as 72.3 percent saying they were encouraged to explore various career options, and 71.4 percent of seniors saying they felt encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities.

“That is something we want to see an increase on,” Larsen said.

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