UH-M's message to high school seniors: Consider staying home for - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH-M's message to high school seniors: Consider staying home for college

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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaii high school seniors will converge on UH-Manoa on Saturday as part of a bid to get them to stay home for college.

University of Hawaii's "Manoa Experience" preview day is aimed at highlighting the unique programs at Manoa, and underscore the value of remaining in the islands after high school. 

McCarthy Mall will be transformed into an open house in the morning, with booths and tents featuring more than 180 academic programs and student services that are offered on campus. And representatives from the Office of Admissions will be on hand to help prospective students check on their applications or even pay their tuition deposits.

The Manoa Experience also features tours of the residence halls, recreational centers and various college departments, and is one of the many outreach efforts offered by UH officials to promote the programs that are offered on campus and drum up local enrollment.

This past fall, UH Manoa saw a 12 percent increase in freshmen admitted from Hawaii high schools, after three years of decline.

Efforts like the Manoa Experience and other new initiatives are being credited with the improvement, including a new focus on assisting Hawaii students through the application process and finding new incentives to encourage local kids to pursue higher education right here at home.

Among them, all incoming freshman for fall 2017 will be eligible for the Manoa Academic Merit Scholarship -- an automatic, merit-based, $2,000 scholarship per year for four years of undergraduate study for first-time degree seeking students who meet the criteria.

Officials say incentives like these are necessary -- 85 percent of the fall 2016 applicants said grants and scholarships directly influence their decision on which college to attend.

UH officials say the open house also helps to address declining enrollment overall.

At UH-Manoa and UH-Hilo, student enrollment dropped by 4 percent between spring of 2017 and spring of 2016.

It has steadily been on the decline since spring of 2013. That said, there was actually an increase in enrollment at West Oahu of about 9 percent.

At UH community colleges statewide, student enrollment dropped by nearly 6 percent between spring of 2017 and spring of 2016. It has also steadily been on the decline since spring of 2013, but there was a slight increase in enrollment at Kauai Community College.

Officials say in part, improved four-year graduation rates are to blame.

They reached an all-time high in the last few years -- after increasing 84 percent between 2010 and 2016. Thirty-two percent of first-time, full time students who started college in fall 2012 earned a bachelor's degree in four years, increased from 17.5 percent just six years ago.

For the first time this year, the open house will also feature an art and flea urban market at the Campus Center Courtyard featuring local businesses. Registration is open and free, but keep in mind it is required in order for prospective students and groups to receive a free parking pass for the event.

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