Every year at Academic Signing Day, our top scholars choose between elite schools like MIT, Bates, Skidmore, Holy Cross, and Georgetown. This is one exciting aspect of the college placement journey at Cristo Rey Boston High School.
Perhaps even more precious to us are the stories of students who, though not at the top of the class, have made enormous strides in their four years at Cristo Rey Boston.
One young man with challenging family circumstances worked mightily to get his grades up, took on a challenging Advanced Placement Government course, and gained admission to Eastern Nazarene College. This small, private college just south of Boston will provide our graduate with the social and academic support he will need to study engineering or business at the college level.
Our goal at Cristo Rey Boston is to place every graduate in a four-year college or university. Over the past four years, 100% of our seniors have been accepted to four-year institutions, and 92% have directly enrolled in them after graduation from high school. Why a four-year school? Statistically, students are much more likely to earn a college degree if they attend a four-year institution as opposed to a two-year college, where graduation rates range from 10 to 25%. Of even greater significance is that college graduates earn 50% more than those with high school degrees and 22% more than people with associate degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Of our 42 seniors, 13 will be attending Massachusetts state colleges and universities in the fall, including Fitchburg State, Framingham State, Salem State, UMASS Amherst, and UMASS Boston. This is the highest percentage (30%) of students going to state colleges in our history. These schools are competitive, offer a wide range of majors, and have strong summer bridge programs designed to help first-generation students prepare for their first year of college.
We make sure that every senior goes to a college they can afford. The average college graduate in Massachusetts has $27,181 in debt according to a recent study from the Project on Student Loan Debt, and on average, low-income Black and Latino students leave school with higher debts than their White counterparts. Nationally, almost 13% of all student loan borrowers owe more than $50,000, and 4% owe more than $100,000.
By contrast, the average Cristo Rey Boston alum will graduate college with less than $20,000 in student loan debt. Our students’ loans are a combination of federally guaranteed Stafford and Perkins loans and Massachusetts No Interest loans that target students with limited resources. Cristo Rey Boston High School’s seniors this year have an average expected unmet need for their first year of college of $2,695, which they can make up by working, something they know a lot about!
All of this success is the result of a rigorous academic program and a devoted team that works closely with each senior as they make their college decisions – Director of Counseling, Beth Degnan, College Counselor, Maria Theodorakakis, uAspire financial aid counselor Kristin Shapiro, and several volunteers, including one of our Board members, Cathy Brennan. They gain the trust of our students and their families each year, and their tireless work is producing incredible results.