Mary Hudetz and Morgan Lee, Associated Press, January 31, 2018
New Mexico’s high school juniors would be required to apply to at least one college or show they have committed to other post-high school plans as part of a new high school graduation requirement being pushed by two state lawmakers.
The measure was drafted with the aim of reversing declines in college enrollment across the state, which fell nearly 14 percent from 155,065 enrolled students in 2010 to 133,830 in 2016.
Ivey-Soto, an attorney and former educator, said it also could encourage prospective first-generation college students to seriously consider getting into a higher education institution.
The New Mexico bill is modeled after a similar requirement that Gentry said was put in place for high school students in San Marcos, Texas, more than a decade ago. And last year in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made post-high school plans a graduation requirement saying students had to either have plans to enter the military, take part in a “gap year” program, get a job offer or apprenticeship, or have an acceptance letter from a college.
The bill seeks to boost the state’s college enrollment rate in the hopes the state would have a better educated workforce. That could attract more companies to New Mexico, where the unemployment rate is 6.5 percent, the second highest in the U.S. and more than two percentage points higher than the national rate.
While students would not be required to attend college, Gentry thinks requiring them to fill out applications will make them more likely to do so. Applying to the flagship University of New Mexico costs $25.
Many of the state’s community college don’t charge application fees and applying online can take as little as 20 minutes.