Here’s where Historic Triangle students are going to college

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Christopher Newport University Campus (WYDaily/ Courtesy of CNU)
Christopher Newport University Campus (WYDaily/ Courtesy of CNU)

Over the next year, high school seniors will be filling out applications and going on college tours. But in the Historic Triangle, where do most of these seniors end up?

Students can attend schools across the world or go into a trade school, or follow some other path. For those on the four-year college path, there are certain institutions that Williamsburg-James City County and York County students attend the most.

However, certain high schools don’t necessarily keep track of where their students are heading.

“Because post-high school plans are self-reported by students, there is not a comprehensive list,” said Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for WJCC.

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However, in the York County School District there is a comprehensive list, showing the top 10 colleges 2019 graduates from each high school will be attending, as well as the percentage of students attending four-year and two-year institutions, entering the workforce or attending a vocational school and students who enter the military.

Some of the common colleges among the district’s high schools were Thomas Nelson Community College, Old Dominion University, and Christopher Newport University.

“Each graduating class is different, so while one year there may be multiple students with similar post-graduation plans, the next might be totally different,” said Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for York County School Division.

Both Goff and Cox said where students attend university does not impact how school counselors will direct the next class the following year. 

“For example, conversations with students focus on the student’s future career interests,” Goff said. “If that career interest leads to a college pathway, discussions would evolve. Again, those conversation[s] would be about the specific student more so than the college [or] university.”

But whether or not a school district keeps track of where graduates go, the universities do.

There are a number of tools that monitor where students are going to school, including the Virginia Public Access Project, which provides statistics based on public documents, according to VPAP’s website.

Additionally, individual institutions keep track of where their students are coming from based on home address, not necessarily school district.

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The number that attend a school might be different than how large the student interest is from a particular location. For example, in 2018 there were 134 from James City County enrolled in the freshman class at James Madison University, according to data from the university. But between 2014 and 2016, 320 from JCC students applied to JMU.

According to data from VPAP, here are the numbers for some of the most popular state universities from 2014 to 2016:

  • Virginia Tech, 335 students accepted from JCC, 381 students from York County, one from Williamsburg
  • CNU, 196 students accepted from JCC, 200 from York County, no data for Williamsburg
  • William & Mary, 86 accepted from JCC, 114 from York County, 10 from Williamsburg
  • JMU, 220 accepted from JCC, 325 from York County, 82 from Williamsburg
  • UVA, 125 accepted from JCC, 173 from York County, 16 from Williamsburg

In 2018, Radford University had 71 students from James City County enrolled, 62 from York County and none from Williamsburg, according to data from the university.

While those numbers change every year, colleges may track them to get a better understanding of where their students come from. Caitlyn Scaggs, associate vice president for University Relations at Radford, said the university has representatives who specialize in specific geographic regions based on a data-driven approach.

At William & Mary, the admissions review process is holistic and takes into account a variety of factors, but the college aims to have a student body that is made from 65 percent in-state students, said Timothy Wolfe, associate provost for enrollment and dean of admission.

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