High School Graduates Completing College Preparatory Courses, by Race/Ethnicity

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Learn More About College Eligibility

Measures of College Eligibility on Kidsdata.org
On kidsdata.org, college eligibility is measured by the number and percentage of public school students graduating with their class (the four-year adjusted cohort) who complete all coursework required for University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) admission with a grade of C or better. These data are available for the state, counties, and school districts overall and, at the state and county level, by race/ethnicity.
Completion of college preparatory courses is only one requirement for UC or CSU entrance. Eligibility also depends on meeting standardized test score, grade point average, and other requirements.
College Eligibility
Disconnected Youth
Pupil Support Services
School Climate
Math Proficiency
Reading Proficiency
High School Graduation
Why This Topic Is Important
Higher educational attainment generally leads to more employment opportunities, higher earning potential, and better health (1). However, college preparatory resources—such as quality curricula, teaching, advising, and test preparation—are not available equally to all students, and certain groups are consistently underrepresented in higher education, including Latinos, African Americans, and low-income students (1). While progress has been made, substantial inequities remain in these areas.

The benefits of college readiness, access, and completion extend beyond individuals to society overall. For example, California is projected to have a shortage of skilled workers in the near future, falling at least 1 million bachelor's degrees short of demand by 2030 (1). Improving college access and completion also could benefit society by increasing tax revenue while reducing economic inequality, unemployment, poverty, incarceration, and demand for safety net programs (1).
Although college completion is linked to better career potential, many young people find personal and financial fulfillment through other means, including military service, career education (occupation-specific training), and work.

For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.

Source for this narrative:

1.  Murphy, P., et al. (2019). Higher education in California. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/higher-education-in-california
How Children Are Faring
More than half (51%) of all high school diploma earners from California's 2019 graduating class completed the coursework required for University of California (UC) and/or California State University (CSU) admission with a grade of C or better. The share of graduates completing college preparatory coursework varies widely across regions with data. Between 2017 and 2019—the period for which comparable data are available—county-level figures ranged from consistently below 20% to consistently above 60%. In some school districts, percentages remained higher than 90% during this period.

Inequities persist in college eligibility across racial/ethnic groups. In 2019, 75% of Asian and 55% of white graduates statewide completed the course requirements for UC or CSU entrance, compared with fewer than 45% of their Hispanic/Latino (44%), African American/black (40%), and American Indian/Alaska Native (31%) peers.
Policy Implications
The benefits of higher education are well documented, ranging from better economic and health outcomes for individuals to increased tax revenue and reduced poverty rates for society as a whole (1). Higher education is especially critical in California, as the state is projected to have a serious shortage of skilled workers by 2030 (1).

Student success in high school and college starts early. When young people receive high-quality early childhood learning opportunities and continued educational support throughout childhood, they are more likely to have long-term academic success (2). Unfortunately, not all children have access to high-quality child care, Pre-K–12 education, college preparatory courses, and other resources that prepare young people for college (1, 3). Low-income, Latino, and African American students have been historically underrepresented in higher education in California, and disparities persist (1). Other groups often face barriers to college, too, including students in foster care, those with disabilities, homeless students, English learners, undocumented students (who can receive financial aid in California), and students whose parents did not go to college (1, 2, 3, 4).

Recognizing these challenges, California has enacted numerous reforms and initiatives aimed at reducing educational inequities and improving college preparation, access, and completion (1). While progress has been made, the work is far from done (1). Policymakers (at federal, state, and local levels), educators, school systems, and community organizations all can play a role in addressing disparities and ensuring young people have equitable opportunities for college success.

Policy and practice options that could improve college readiness, opportunity, and completion include:
  • Ensuring that all children have access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education, which can lay the foundation for later achievement and reduce disparities that begin early (2)
  • Creating long-term funding solutions for California's early childhood, Pre-K–12, and higher education systems, including reinvestments in public colleges and universities; also, ensuring equitable distribution of quality curricula, teaching, and other resources (1, 2)
  • Continuing to support schools in creating safe, positive environments and developing comprehensive, evidence-based systems to address students' academic, physical, emotional, behavioral, and other needs (2)
  • Increasing family outreach starting in middle school, promoting awareness about college preparation, enrollment, financial aid options, and resources to support families (1)
  • Strengthening coordination between K–12 and higher education to continue improving student transitions from high school to college and from two-year to four-year institutions; as part of this, ensuring that K–12 students have equitable access to rigorous college preparatory courses and resources (advising, test preparation, etc.), dual enrollment programs, and other opportunities to help with these transitions (1)
  • Reducing fragmentation in higher education leadership by creating a coordinating oversight body to set long-term goals and strategies, including plans to accommodate more students and improve transparency and accountability for institutions (1, 2)
  • Supporting efforts to help cover the full cost of college, including housing, food, and child care for students with children; these costs, plus rising tuition and fees, can put college out of reach for low-income students (1, 2)
  • Continuing to support the development of an integrated, longitudinal student data system for California, which can provide a wealth of information about the education pipeline and answer key questions about barriers to college enrollment, among other issues (1)
For more information, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section or Policy Implications under the following topics: Reading Proficiency, Math Proficiency, and High School Graduation.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Murphy, P., et al. (2019). Higher education in California. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/higher-education-in-california

2.  Children Now. (2020). 2020 California children's report card: A survey of kids' well-being and roadmap for the future. Retrieved from: https://www.childrennow.org/portfolio-posts/20-report-card

3.  National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Monitoring educational equity. National Academies Press. Retrieved from: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25389/monitoring-educational-equity

4.  Dow, A., et al. (2019). In their voices: Undocumented in California public colleges and universities. Campaign for College Opportunity. Retrieved from: https://collegecampaign.org/portfolio/in-their-voices
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For College Eligibility