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The exterior of the Ridgweater College campus in Willmar is pictured Friday. The college will see 66 new Willmar Senior High School graduates come through its doors this year. A survey shows that more than eight out 10 from Willmar's graduating class plan to attend some form of college this year. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Majority of Willmar grads plan to go on to college; 11 percent plan to find jobs

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WILLMAR -- More than three-quarters of Willmar Senior High's graduates plan to go on to some type of post-secondary education.

In a survey at Willmar Senior High, 81 percent of the 247 graduates indicated plans to attend a college or technical school. The survey is conducted each year, and the results are compiled by Karol Markfelder in the counseling office.

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The class of 2009 graduated Sunday.

One-third of the class, 83 students, will be attending community or technical colleges after graduation.

Private colleges have attracted 23 percent of the graduates. Another 13 percent plan to attend four-year state colleges and universities, while 11 percent plan to go to school out of Minnesota.

Other students in the survey include 27 students who already have or plan to seek full-time jobs, five students entering the military, four foreign exchange students returning home, eight special education students and three with other plans.

Plans vary by gender. More female students plan to attend private colleges. The number is evenly split for state schools, but more male students plan to go to school outside Minnesota.

The number of students headed to community and technical schools is evenly split, with 43 men and 40 women moving in that direction.

Ridgewater College of Willmar is the hometown favorite, with 66 graduates headed there. Four students will attend Alexandria Technical College, and three will attend the St. Cloud Technical College. Other schools on the list will see just one or two Willmar grads.

Among private schools, the most popular are Concordia College in Moorhead, with seven students going there, and North Central University in Minneapolis, to be attended by six. Other schools to be attended by more than one Willmar student include Bethel University, College of St. Catherine, Gustavus Adolphus College, Northwestern College in St. Paul, St. John's University, St. Olaf and St. Scholastica.

Students also plan to attend a variety of out-of-state private schools. Four will be going to Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

Among state colleges, the University of Minnesota leads the way, with a dozen Willmar grads heading to its campuses -- eight to the Twin Cities, two to Duluth and two to Morris. Six students will be going to St. Cloud State University.

North Dakota State University in Fargo leads among out-of-state public schools. It was chosen by 11 Willmar grads. Three students each will head off to South Dakota State University at Brookings and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

While the 81 percent headed off to further their education sounds like a high number, it's actually the lowest percentage in this decade, according to the survey. The percentage has ranged from 82 percent to 91 percent from 2000 to 2008.

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