SEPTEMBER 26, 2013

NYC Student Enrollment at CUNY has Skyrocketed since 2002, Reflecting Higher High School Grad Grades and Increased Interest in College

The City University of New York is colloquially called "13th grade" for New York City public school students because it is such a popular destination. Seventy percent of CUNY freshmen come from NYC public high schools. As the city's graduation rate has increased, so has CUNY's freshmen enrollment. The number of NYC students going to CUNY has increased 61 percent since 2002.

The increase in students enrolling in two-year community colleges (versus CUNY's more selective senior colleges) has been particularly dramatic. The number of NYC freshmen has more than doubled since 2002. This is an important trend to watch because CUNY's community college graduation rates are quite low. Only 16 percent of students entering in 2009 earned an associate's degree within three years. While more students are going to college, many still fail to get a college degree.

Total Number


How Access to Advanced Classes in High School Increases the Probability of College Success

As the city moves its focus from graduation to college preparation, the New York City Department of Education is pressing high schools to offer more rigorous courses and a college preparatory curriculum. There is much work to be done.

Students, for example, should have access to advanced math and science courses to prepare for college. A Center for New York City Affairs analysis of 2011-12 Progress Report data revealed that only 28 of 342 high schools analyzed had students taking Regents exams for Algebra 2, Chemistry and Physics. Most schools offered only one or two of these courses for possible advanced Regents credit in that year--and 46 schools appeared to offer none.

That said, most high schools offer at least a few advanced or college-level courses. And taking even just one course can improve the probability of success in college. The analysis below was done by the education department, looking at two cohorts entering college in 2009 and 2010. This chart illustrates the path of those students who entered high school with average 8th grade ELA and math scores of 3.0. (To note, most students in NYC enter high school with lower scores than 3.0.)

The best possible scenario is seen on the left: The student will get access to a rich array of college preparatory classes, allowing him to earn an Advanced Regents Diploma and experiment with at least one college-level course, like those offered through CUNY's College Now program. A worst-case scenario is shown on the right: The student gets no exposure to college prep classes. The differences are stark. The student with access to a college prep curriculum is likely to start college on time, avoiding CUNY's time-consuming remedial courses. The student with no college prep experience is likely to need the remedial help. Starting on time, with no remedial help, is a important predictor of college success at CUNY.

Probablility of Students

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