The Role of High School Freshman Grades, Socioeconomic Status, and School Location on College Enrollment




grade-point averages, GPA, college enrollment, socioeconomic status, ninth-grade


Prior research underscores the pivotal role high school freshman grade-point averages (FGPA) play in college enrollment, with a focus predominantly on urban settings. This study broadens this perspective, employing a diverse Arkansas sample (n = 33,207), spanning rural, suburban, and urban high school students and filling a notable literature gap. Utilizing a logit analysis, we found that high school students with an A FGPA were 23% more likely to enroll in college than B FGPA peers. Those failing a course in their high school freshman year were 13% less likely to enroll in college. Among similar academic ability students, economically disadvantaged students were 15% less likely to enroll in college. Locale classifications showed no significant enrollment variations. We conclude that FGPA and socioeconomic status (SES) are stronger enrollment predictors than locale classifications, finishing with intervention recommendations for lower-SES students in exploring college options.


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Author Biographies

Sarah Morris, University of Arkansas

SARAH RUTH MORRIS, M.Ed., is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and a strategic data partner for the Northwest Arkansas school districts at The Office for Education Policy. Email:

Sarah McKenzie, Office for Education Policy

SARAH MCKENZIE, PhD, serves as the executive director of The Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. She spends most of her time researching education in Arkansas, communicating the results to schools in a meaningful way. Email:


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