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Survey shows 85% of Willmar's 274 grads plan to attend college

WILLMAR -- A huge majority of Willmar Senior High's 274 graduates this spring, about 85 percent of them, will be headed off to college in the fall.

Willmar's class of 2008 will graduate in a 2 p.m. ceremony Sunday at the Senior High gym.

The school's counseling office surveyed the graduates of 2008 and found that school isn't over for most of them. The results are compiled by Karol Markfelder in the counseling office.

The class as a whole has a pretty even split by gender, with 136 boys and 138 girls graduating on Sunday. More girls will be attending private college, while more boys will be attending public colleges.

Private colleges are popular, with 64 students or 23 percent planning to attend private colleges.

One hundred students, 36 percent, said they would be attending community or technical colleges. That number is a 50-50 split between male and female students.

Forty-four students, 16 percent, will be attending public colleges or universities in Minnesota, while 25 of them, 9 percent, will be attending schools outside Minnesota.

The remainder of the students include 21 who will be seeking full-time employment or already have jobs, seven students entering the military, six special education students, four foreign exchange students returning home and three who listed other plans.

Among private colleges, Concordia College in Moorhead seems to be the most popular, with 18 students planning to study there. Another 14 will attend Bethel University. Other in-state private schools welcoming more than one Willmar student include St. John's University, the College of St. Benedict, St. Olaf College, St. Scholastica in Duluth and the University of St. Thomas.

St. Cloud State University is the most popular Minnesota public school with Willmar grads, with 14 of them headed there. The University of Minnesota will see 18 Willmar students at three campuses -- eight in the Twin Cities, nine in Duluth and one in Morris.

Among out-of-state public schools, North Dakota State University in Fargo is the most popular, with seven graduates headed there.

Many of the graduates attending out-of-state schools will be studying in neighboring states, but some will go farther. One student will attend the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Another is headed for Southwest State University in Eagle Pass, Texas. Two students plan to attend universities in California.

The students going into the military have chosen several branches of the service -- one is joining the National Guard, two will be in the Air Force, three will be Marines and one will join the Navy. One female student is planning to join the Air Force, all the rest are males.

Other plans include one female student who plans to pursue an acting career in New York City, one male student who will be training to be an emergency medical technician and one female student who plans to attend an online college.

The preferences of graduates seem to have changed over time. The 36 percent of students going to community colleges next year is the lowest in the past 10 years. The percentage of students choosing private and public four-year colleges is among the highest over the same time period.

The percentage of students planning to go straight to work has held fairly steady over the last decade. This year's 3 percent going into the military is the highest percentage since 1999.