The University of Northern Colorado’s campus commons is seen on May 19, 2022, in Greeley. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

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The rate at which Colorado students are going to college right out of high school has dipped, and those who do go are less prepared. And participation in programs offering college experience in high school has remained stagnant.

Those takeaways detailed in the state’s recent annual look at the state’s higher education progress offer a better view of trends influenced by the pandemic. The May report, reflecting the high school class of 2020, serves as an annual pulse check on state higher education. 

This is the first year the report shows the impact of the pandemic on students. The report looks at issues that threaten the state’s progress toward the goal of getting more residents equipped with a college certificate or degree. Here are three takeaways from the recent report on postsecondary progress.

Student participation in early college opportunities remained static

The good news: Students across the state consistently participated in college opportunities while in high school. But those numbers don’t show yet the impact of the pandemic.

Many students were already enrolled in college-level classes in 2020 before the start of the pandemic. The numbers reflect, however, the struggle to sustain progress made during the last decade in students participating in dual enrollment, career education and early college opportunities. Overall, participation has slowed or even flatlined.