MONTROSE, N.Y. - Members of Hendrick Hudson High School's guidance team said nearly 100 percent of students have applied for some kind of post-secondary education, and in the coming months those students will fan out across the country.
There are about 210 seniors in the class of 2012, with graduates attending almost as many schools. High School guidance counselor Heather McGowan said the financial piece of the puzzle has become more prominent in recent years.
"We definitely have more financial aid questions. We have a speaker that comes in and speaks to our junior and senior class in the fall, and we try to get the parents to call the financial aid offices at their schools," McGowan said.
Students are attending a vast array of schools, from Carnegie Mellon University, the Citadel Military College of South Carolina and Columbia University, to the nearby Purchase College and Pace University.
Whatever institution they choose, recent studies say time is not on a student's side. High schools generally don't track what percentage of their students take remedial courses when entering college, but Complete College America says about 19.9 percent of students entering four-year universities need remediation. Remedial courses can cause increased time in school by requiring classes that don't count toward a degree.
The U.S. Department of Education found that 57 percent of students entering four-year universities finished within six years at the same institution, although there is considerable debate in the education community about whether this number captures the complexities of part-time, commuter and non-residential student life. Additionally, New York State has some of the highest average student loan debt in the country, at an average of $26,271 in 2010, according to the Project on Student Debt.
McGowan said State University of New York (SUNY) schools have become more competitive, as the price tag is more attractive than many private institutions.
This, combined with a weak job market, has students asking questions, said McGowan.
"I try to really emphasize that they should take this as a personal family journey," said McGowan about the application process and selecting a school.
"The students' biggest concern is whether they're going to get in, whether they're looking at the right place and the parents have the same questions," she said.
According to a survey by Hen Hud, about 12 percent of the graduating class has chosen a two-year in-state school, 49 percent a four-year in-state and 37.7 percent a four-year out of state.