Report: Trumbull High grads applying to more, better colleges

Trumbull High School students are applying to and gaining admittance to high level colleges at a higher rate than ever, and the trend appears to be accelerating. That is according to a college summary the Board of Education received this week.

According to the report, prepared by Trumbull High counselor Kathy Hilser, the 555 graduates in the Trumbull High Class of 2018 combined to send out 3,283 applications to traditional four-year colleges, an increase of nearly 23% over the past four years. They received 2,190 acceptances, and 446 graduates, about 80% of the Class of 2018, ended up enrolling in a four-year college.

Of the students choosing not to attend a four-year college, just under 8% of the class opted for two-year or community college, and 7.2% planned to work full-time. A handful of others opted to join the military and most of the rest decided to take a “gap year” to further explore their options.

School Superintendent Gary Cialfi said a number of factors, including the concerns over future student loan debt, is driving students to take a gap year between high school and college.

“When I look at the number of kids who take the year off, we’re not talking about slouching or doing nothing,” he said. “I’m seeing really driven kids who want to take a year to just explore where their passions truly are.”

These gap year students will likely enroll in college in the future, but want to take their time and make sure they are making the right decision, Cialfi said.

“They’re looking beyond college, towards their careers,” he said. “More kids than ever are doing internships and job shadowing. Before they make a commitment to a college, they want to make sure they are getting into something that they’ll like.”

According to the report, students also are applying to more colleges than ever, and they are also applying to more competitive schools than just a few years ago. Until recently, students would apply to one school that they were likely a long shot to get into, two more that were a bit of a reach but where they would likely get into one of them, and a safety school where they easily qualified for admission. Now, with online applications making it easier (though no less expensive) to apply to college, students are taking multiple shots at getting into the top schools.

The Class of 2018 sent out 597 applications to schools classified by Barron’s as “most competitive.” That is more than 50% more than members of the Class of 2015 (396). Class members received 150 acceptances at these most competitive schools, compared to 104 four years ago. Of those accepted at the elite colleges, 40 enrolled and 56 more deferred their admission.

Schools rated “highly competitive” and “very competitive” also received 28% and 33% more applications from Trumbull students than four years ago, and the 2018 graduates gained admission to those schools at a slightly higher rate than their 2015 peers.

Cialfi also noted the increasing trend of students joining the military after graduating Trumbull High. Many of those who enlist also end up going to college, he said.

“Every one of them is a serious student,” he said. “For them, going into the service is a good way to get a leg up on their education, get some training, and save some money.”

Cialfi said the 2018 graduates were much more aware than their predecessors of the cost of college, and the impact that college debt could have on their future.

“The expense of college today is unbelievable,” he said. “We were saying that 5-10 years ago, and it’s gotten more so. We are seeing that more and more graduates are helping their parents out and helping themselves out by not having a huge college loan or at least making a reasoned decision.”