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High School has achieved a 100% college acceptance rate  Empty High School has achieved a 100% college acceptance rate

Sat May 02, 2015 10:35 am
A private high school in Baltimore that only accepts low-income students has the highest college acceptance rate in the city.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School has achieved a 100% college acceptance rate among graduates despite taking only students from disadvantaged neighborhoods such as the one where this week’s riots first erupted. It also spends thousands less per student than public schools.

The school, just east of downtown, is funded almost entirely by corporate and private donors. It is one of dozens run by Cristo Rey that are scattered in big cities across the US.

Cristo Rey's unique admissions process helps it find lower-income students who otherwise would fall through the cracks in the public school system, Jessica Gregg, the school's communications director, told Business Insider.

The school bases its admissions only partly on grades.

"We all know that kid in high school who had a C average but is now killing it in their career," said Gregg, adding that many other factors go into admissions.

Cristo Rey asks prospective students what they want to achieve at the school, and it asks parents why they want their child to enroll.

“You need to have at least one parent, grandparent, guardian invested in their education,” Gregg said.

Only the most motivated students get accepted. They're involved in several school clubs and organizations and can already tell school administrators exactly what they want to do after graduation.

“They’re more forward-thinking at a younger age,” Gregg continued. “The kids who come here know they want to go to college."

No Cristo Rey students were arrested for taking part in the violent protests.

Baltimore city protests and Freddie GrayREUTERS/Sait Serkan GurbuzProtesters clash with police near Mondawmin Mall after Freddie Gray's funeral in Baltimore April 27, 2015.

Students are all given after-school jobs as a prerequisite for attending, which keeps them occupied and introduces them to the workplace at a younger age.

In school, small class sizes allows instructors to focus on providing the teens with the attention they need to tackle hard concepts and put themselves in a position to succeed down the road. This year’s graduating class is only 70 students, but the incoming freshman class is 100 strong.

Of the 100% students accepted to college, about 93% end up attending. Those who don't attend often cite financial constraints, but the school tries to help students obtain scholarships and grants.

All of this is achieved while spending only about $14,000 per pupil versus the $16,600 spent per student by Baltimore city public schools, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Cristo Rey is doing great work, but there are a few caveats.

Low-income can range from living on welfare to single parents working three jobs to earn $40,000 per year, Gregg explained. Parents can be required to pay as much as $2,500 per school year in tuition, according to a recent al-Jazeera report.

Not all students accepted see their way through to the end. The school has about a 25% dropout rate, according to Gregg. This places the private school at roughly the same graduation rate as Baltimore's public schools.

Also, children from more difficult circumstances, such as the Sandtown neighborhood where Freddie Gray lived, tend to not do as well as children in less destitute areas.

“I think it’s fair to say the students in the most challenged situations struggle the most,” Gregg said.

Also, the school can instruct only a total of 350 students per year because it would have a hard time finding jobs for more students.

“For every student, we need to have a job,” Gregg said. “We have to have jobs for 350 kids … If Baltimore maybe had some more businesses, it would be possible to replicate this.”

But for the children dedicated enough to stick it out, there is hope, according to Gregg.

“This is a school they’ve been waiting for their whole lives,” she said.

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-cristo-rey-jesuit-high-school-succeeds-2015-4
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