New Mexico May Become First State to Require Students Apply to College

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Could applying to college soon be a graduation requirement? Maybe in New Mexico.

A new statewide bill would require public school juniors to apply to at least one two- or four-year college, according to the Associated Press.

If a student has committed to the military, a vocational program, or can prove they plan to work upon graduation in an apprenticeship or internship, they may be exempt. Parents and the student’s school counselor would have to sign off on the plan.

The proposal is still in the early stages, but if it becomes law, New Mexico would be the first state to require postsecondary plans for students.

Though New Mexico might stand alone among the other states, the city of Chicago — home of the nation’s third largest school system — has been a trailblazer in this arena. It passed a similar requirement last year.

Starting in 2020, high school seniors in Chicago won’t receive a diploma until they can show they’ve secured a job, been accepted to college, enrolled in an apprentice program, enlisted in the military, or have made other plans for their future.

New Mexico’s college enrollment rates have declined in recent years, dropping nearly 14 percent from 2010 to 2016. The proposal was introduced to help combat this trend.

State Rep. Nate Gentry said that while the policy would not require students to attend college, filling out an application may help give some students the push they need.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at adobson@nacacnet.org.

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