A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses
On Thursday, May 19, 2016, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the Poinciana Campus. We were filled with hope about what the campus would mean for the community, particularly with respect to access to higher education.
Historically, Osceola County has had one of the lowest college-going rates in the state of Florida. In 2010, 40 percent of Osceola County students enrolled in a public, post-secondary institution in the state of Florida in the fall after their high school graduation, which ranked 61st of 67 counties in Florida. Moreover, the two comprehensive high schools that serve the Poinciana community, Liberty and Poinciana, had amongst the lowest college-going rates in Osceola County (39 percent and 26 percent, respectively).
We believed that the low college-going rates in Poinciana had much to do with challenges related to access. We believed that students in Poinciana aspired to go to college, but the lack of efficient transportation options to Valencia’s other campuses limited their ability to pursue their dreams. So we built our “Field of Dreams” campus — hoping that if we built the Poinciana Campus, they would come.
In August 2017, when the Poinciana Campus opened, we welcomed more than 1,100 students at our new campus. We had a sense then that the opening of the campus would mark a dramatic shift in the college-going rate and move us toward Objective 3.4 of our Campus Plan that aspires to a college-going rate in Osceola County higher than 50 percent.
While the state’s 2017 college-going rate data by county won’t be available for another two years, we are able to calculate the “Valencia-going” rate more quickly. The “Valencia-going” rate is the percentage of students that enroll in Valencia in the fall after their high school graduation and is a good leading indicator of the overall college-going rate.
You’ll see in the data that in 2017, there is an uptick in Osceola County’s Valencia-going rate. In fact, Osceola’s Valencia-going rate exceeded 40 percent for the first time. I believe this is likely due to the “Poinciana Campus effect,” and is a strong sign that Osceola County’s college-going rate will also likely be higher than it ever has been (perhaps even exceeding 50 percent for the first time).
Kudos to the team who worked so hard to make the Poinciana Campus a reality. Please know that your efforts are indeed making a significant difference in our community!