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July 9, 2004 - Oklahoma Moves Up in College Attendance

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Oklahoma has moved up three spots for states with the highest percentage of its population who are enrolled in public higher education. That is one of many notable pieces of information gleaned from the latest Student Data Report recently released by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

According to the report, 4.7 percent of Oklahoma’s population enrolled in a state public college or university in fall 2001, the latest year that complete national statistics were available. The new figure places Oklahoma 14th in the nation, up from 17th last year. More than 163,000 out of nearly 3.5 million Oklahomans enrolled in a public institution in fall 2001.

The only bordering states that fared better than Oklahoma were Kansas (#1), New Mexico (#6) and Colorado (#9). The states of Texas (#23), Arkansas (#34) and Missouri (#39) trailed Oklahoma in the rankings.

“These latest rankings are good news for Oklahoma,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “Increasing college participation rates within our public and private institutions is a major goal for the state. These latest figures indicate that Oklahomans see the value of higher education and that they have access to quality higher education institutions.”

The report also revealed that both first-year persistence rates and six-year graduation rates for new freshmen increased within each tier throughout the state system of higher education.

Persistence rate is the percentage of students from an entering college class who enroll the following year. Graduation rate is the percentage of entering freshmen who complete a bachelor’s degree within about six years.

From 1993-94 to 2002-03, persistence rates within the state for new freshmen increased from 87.3 percent to 90.8 percent at OU and OSU, 78.9 percent to 79.7 percent at the regional universities and from 66.1 percent to 68.6 percent at the two-year colleges, the report showed. Also, from 1995-96 to 2002-03, six-year graduation rates within the institution for new freshmen increased from 44 percent to 55.8 percent at OU and OSU, 27.6 percent to 31.8 percent at the regional universities and from 14.3 percent to 19.4 percent at the two-year colleges.

“Keeping our students in college and graduating them in a timely manner are direct links to improving our economy. Our colleges and universities have been diligent in their work of producing more college graduates in the state, and we are hopeful that progress in these two areas will continue for many years to come,” Risser said.

The Student Data Report also revealed other noteworthy facts and figures, such as:

This marks the 21st year that the State Regents have published the annual Student Data Report. Each semester, data are gathered for each student in Oklahoma higher education and then used to measure student involvement in higher education, such as movement into college, enrollments, student transfer, persistence and semester credit hours.