Going to college, or getting a job?

Commentary by Bruce Kellison.

What factors influence a high school senior’s decision to go to college? New survey research, combined with Texas Workforce Commission data on employment, seeks to identify factors that heavily influence higher ed and workforce outcomes among Central Texas high school graduates. In the August issue of Texas Business Review, Deanna Schexnayder and her colleagues at the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources summarize their preliminary findings from the Central Texas Futures Project, an ambitious new research study aimed at more effective workforce development.

For traditionally underserved groups like Hispanics and first-generation college students, key factors influencing the decision to attend college include taking college prep curricula in high school like the DAP or RHSP, and completing the FAFSA. The authors go on to find that “after controlling for other effects, Hispanic males were twice as likely to enroll in four-year colleges than Hispanic females, while gender had no effect for all surveyed graduates.” Policymakers can use findings contained in the report to customize targeted strategies to boost college enrollment rates and improve workforce outcomes among Hispanics, the state’s fastest-growing population segment.


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September 2, 2009