2015’s Best States for College Preparation

More and more students are going to college. But, according to recent studies, they’re not always ready for it when they get there. A 2014 survey, conducted for the Washington-based nonprofit Achieve, asked high school graduates from the classes of 2011-2014 about their perceived levels of preparedness for higher education and the real world. The results? Nearly half (49%) report gaps in their preparation for life after high school, including in work and study habits, communication skills, problem-solving, and even reading comprehension. In addition,

According to a National Center for Education (1)

That left us wondering – where are we failing the other 41 percent of college freshmen? To find out, we aggregated educational data and took a look at which U.S. states are the best – and worst – at preparing their students for college. We included the following metrics, gleaned from sources like the National Center for Education Statistics and the College Board:

Our Methodology (3)

The states that rank highest in this report are states that exhibit strong educational values, place an emphasis on completing and continuing education, and provide both academic and emotional support for students.

The Best States for College Preparedness

Maine
New Jersey
North Dakota
Kansas
Nebraska
Iowa
Massachusetts
Wisconsin
New Hampshire
Vermont
Maine

10. Maine

GoodCall score: 33.75

Population: 1,330,089

Average SAT score: 1387

High school graduation rate: 87%

College enrollment (18-24): 46.30%

High school dropout rate: 3.80%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.42

AP schools per 1,000: 0.103

New Jersey

9. New Jersey

GoodCall score: 34.15

Population: 8,938,175

Average SAT score: 1526

High school graduation rate: 87%

College enrollment (18-24): 46.50%

High school dropout rate: 4.00%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.35

AP course availability: 0.056

North Dakota

8. North Dakota

GoodCall score: 35.15

Population: 739,482

Average SAT score: 1816

High school graduation rate: 91%

College enrollment (18-24): 46.50%%

High school dropout rate: 6.80%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.27

AP course availability: 0.038

Kansas

7. Kansas

GoodCall score: 36.50

Population: 2,904,021

Average SAT score: 1753

High school graduation rate: 89%

College enrollment (18-24): 46.40%

High school dropout rate: 4.40%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.54

AP course availability: 0.041

Nebraska

6. Nebraska

GoodCall score: 36.55

Population: 1,881,503

Average SAT score: 1745

High school graduation rate: 93%

College enrollment (18-24): 48.30%

High school dropout rate: 4.30%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.30

AP course availability: 0.040

Iowa

5. Iowa

GoodCall score: 37.25

Population: 3,107,126

Average SAT score: 1794

High school graduation rate: 89%

College enrollment (18-24): 45.40%

High school dropout rate: 4.60%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 0.83

AP course availability: 0.069

Massachusetts

4. Massachusetts

GoodCall score: 38.60

Population: 6,745,408

Average SAT score: 1556

High school graduation rate: 86%

College enrollment (18-24): 53.50%

High school dropout rate: 3.80%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.41

AP course availability: 0.064

Wisconsin

3. Wisconsin

GoodCall score: 40.40

Population: 5,757,564

Average SAT score: 1782

High school graduation rate: 92%

College enrollment (18-24): 45.10%

High school dropout rate: 4.80%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.35

AP course availability: 0.079

New Hampshire

2. New Hampshire

GoodCall score: 41.45

Population: 1,326,813

Average SAT score: 1566

High school graduation rate: 87%

College enrollment (18-24): 49.10%

High school dropout rate: 2.90%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 1.92

AP course availability: 0.074

Vermont

1. Vermont

GoodCall score: 44.70

Population: 626,562

Average SAT score: 1554

High school graduation rate: 93%

College enrollment (18-24): 50.70%

High school dropout rate: 3.20%

Guidance counselors per 1,000: 2.79

AP course availability: 0.109

The Top States For... (1)

 

The Data

Rank State GoodCall Score Population Average Total SAT Score High School Graduation Rate College Enrollment (18-24 year-olds) High School Dropout Rate (16-24 year olds) Guidance Counselors per 1,000 Students Advanced Placement (AP) Course Availability
1 Vermont 44.70 626,562 1554 93% 50.70% 3.20% 2.79 0.109
2 New Hampshire 41.45 1,326,813 1566 87% 49.10% 2.90% 1.92 0.074
3 Wisconsin 40.40 5,757,564 1782 92% 45.10% 4.80% 1.35 0.079
4 Massachusetts 38.60 6,745,408 1556 86% 53.50% 3.80% 1.41 0.064
5 Iowa 37.25 3,107,126 1794 89% 45.40% 4.60% 0.83 0.069
6 Nebraska 36.55 1,881,503 1745 93% 48.30% 4.30% 1.30 0.040
7 Kansas 36.50 2,904,021 1753 89% 46.40% 4.40% 1.54 0.041
8 North Dakota 35.15 739,482 1816 91% 46.50% 6.80% 1.27 0.038
9 New Jersey 34.15 8,938,175 1526 87% 46.50% 4.00% 1.35 0.056
10 Maine 33.75 1,330,089 1387 87% 46.30% 3.80% 1.42 0.103
11 Connecticut 33.50 3,596,677 1525 86% 47.80% 5.00% 1.22 0.066
12 Minnesota 32.85 5,457,173 1786 88% 43.60% 4.40% 1.14 0.052
13 Pennsylvania 32.70 12,787,209 1481 88% 45.10% 5.20% 1.57 0.057
14 South Dakota 31.20 853,175 1792 83% 41.20% 6.60% 0.92 0.134
15 Wyoming 30.40 584,153 1762 80% 41.60% 5.60% 2.79 0.048
16 Missouri 30.30 6,063,589 1771 86% 40.90% 5.70% 1.58 0.047
17 New York 30.20 19,746,227 1468 78% 47.90% 6.40% 1.98 0.063
18 Colorado 30.00 5,355,866 1735 82% 41.60% 6.70% 1.69 0.054
19 Ohio 29.70 11,594,163 1652 84% 42.30% 5.80% 1.26 0.060
20 Maryland 29.20 5,976,407 1468 84% 45.60% 5.00% 1.42 0.055
21 Michigan 29.05 9,909,877 1784 77% 45.20% 6.20% 1.05 0.061
22 District of Columbia 28.90 658,893 1309 71% 51.90% 5.40% 2.59 0.076
23 Virginia 28.80 8,326,289 1530 84% 42.90% 4.20% 1.52 0.051
24 Illinois 27.85 12,880,580 1802 82% 44.40% 5.10% 0.91 0.048
25 Montana 27.25 1,023,579 1637 86% 39.00% 8.40% 1.16 0.098
26 Arkansas 26.80 2,966,369 1698 78% 38.10% 6.60% 1.45 0.099
27 Oklahoma 25.25 3,878,051 1697 79% 36.40% 8.20% 1.44 0.083
28 Kentucky 25.00 4,413,457 1746 82% 40.30% 7.40% 0.98 0.058
29 Rhode Island 24.90 1,055,173 1480 76% 52.90% 5.70% 0.98 0.058
30 Indiana 24.20 6,596,855 1474 80% 42.40% 8.20% 1.34 0.061
31 Utah 23.10 2,942,902 1690 78% 42.50% 5.20% 1.20 0.049
32 West Virginia 22.90 1,850,326 1522 80% 36.20% 7.50% 1.71 0.065
33 North Carolina 22.80 9,943,964 1483 79% 40.90% 7.60% 1.56 0.055
34 Delaware 21.25 935,614 1359 77% 43.00% 5.70% 1.55 0.055
35 California 21.15 38,802,500 1504 82% 46.40% 6.50% 0.65 0.045
36 Hawaii 20.25 1,419,561 1460 78% 37.90% 4.70% 1.89 0.055
37 Tennessee 20.20 6,549,352 1714 83% 37.40% 5.70% 0.98 0.047
38 Alaska 19.90 736,732 1485 79% 25.70% 5.90% 1.36 0.075
39 Mississippi 19.05 2,994,079 1714 68% 41.50% 8.90% 1.23 0.050
40 New Mexico 18.10 2,085,572 1617 74% 38.10% 7.80% 1.38 0.053
41 Texas 17.10 26,956,958 1432 82% 37.80% 7.60% 1.26 0.058
42 Washington 16.80 7,061,530 1519 79% 36.30% 6.40% 1.28 0.054
43 Alabama 16.35 4,849,377 1617 75% 38.10% 8.50% 0.86 0.058
44 Oregon 15.80 3,970,239 1544 78% 40.30% 7.30% 0.68 0.053
45 Idaho 13.45 1,634,464 1364 84% 33.00% 7.00% 0.97 0.054
46 Louisiana 13.10 4,649,676 1667 72% 36.30% 10.70% 0.73 0.055
47 Florida 12.65 19,893,297 1448 75% 41.40% 7.00% 1.16 0.038
48 Georgia 11.75 10,097,343 1445 70% 39.70% 7.90% 1.22 0.052
49 South Carolina 11.45 4,832,482 1443 72% 40.30% 8.30% 1.00 0.053
50 Arizona 10.65 6,731,484 1547 77% 37.70% 8.90% 0.71 0.039
51 Nevada 6.65 2,839,099 1458 60% 32.00% 10.50% 1.29 0.033

 

Methodology

We evaluated all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, on the following criteria:

  • College enrollment (18-24 year olds): This data, which comes from the National Center for Education Statistics, represents the percentage of state residents ages 18-24 who were enrolled in degree-granting higher education programs as of 2013. It represents 25% of our overall score.
  • Average SAT scores: This data, which comes from the College Board, refers to the average total SAT score of each state’s residents. It represents 20% of our overall score.
  • High school graduation rates: This metric, which comes from the National Center for Education Statistics, refers to the percentage of a state’s residents who successfully graduate high school. It represents 20% of our overall score.
  • Guidance counselors per 1,000 students: This data, which represents the number of guidance counselors per 1,000 students in a state, comes from the National Center for Education Statistics and represents 15% of our overall score.
  • Advanced placement course availability: This metric comes from the College Board and refers to the number of schools with Advanced Placement (AP) classes per 1,000 students in each state. It represents 15% of our overall score.
  • High school dropout rates: This metric, which represents the high school dropout rates for 16-24 year olds in the state, comes from the National Center for Education Statistics and represents 5% of our overall score.

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Paul Southerland

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Paul is a High Point University graduate with a B.S. in Business and a B.A. in Strategic Communication. GoodCall's resident numbers guy, Paul is a digital marketing expert who has been working in data analysis for more than 3 years. Paul contributes to GoodCall News with original data and reports.

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