Graduation: May the odds be ever in your favor

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Spring break is behind us and warm weather is just around the corner. Summer brings with it the most major of childhood milestones: high school graduation. Tassels will be moved, caps will be flung and cake will be cut. Yet after the celebrations wind down, what’s next? The answer for most area seniors is continuing education. In fact, the Hamilton Southeastern School District reports an astonishing 93.8 percent of its graduates are college-bound. College-bound. The phrase brings a tremendous amount of pride and joy to parents. Not so long ago, college-bound was enough. Advertisements featured students and parents anxiously awaiting an acceptance letter to appear in the mail. The admission letter itself was featured as the golden ticket to future prosperity and security. Now a new buzzword is at work: attainment. The change in focus is a good one because the reality of the post-secondary landscape is attainment doesn’t automatically follow access. Indeed, the odds of college completion are a bit startling. Only about one-fourth of the college population is the classic full-time, residential student. The remaining majority are commuting to classes while juggling work, families or a part-time schedule. Though these full-time students have the best odds of grasping that diploma, only about 40 percent actually do so in four years. Those numbers only increase to 60 percent after six years. Simply put – despite extra time – four out of 10 students will never cross that commencement stage. Of those who do drop out, more than 75 percent will leave within the first year. Indiana is populated with more than 745,000 residents with some college, yet no degree. Part-time students fare even worse; in fact, they rarely graduate – less than 25 percent of these students will attain their degrees. Complete College America argues “time is the enemy of college completion.” Students are taking too much time and too many credits along the way. An average bachelor’s degree should require 120 credits; yet, the average bachelor’s graduate has earned 136.5. The time and credit gap not only deepens student debt, but also opens the door to life events that compete with completion. Fishers’ area seniors are well-poised to beat these odds. The preparation they have received from HSE schools, along with the support of an education-oriented community, will be critical for their continued success. Congratulations to our 2012 graduates – not on reaching the finish line, but on this incredible new beginning.

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