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Nearly all of Delaware’s private and charter schools describe themselves as college preparatory, which makes college acceptance better than high school graduation rates at showing whether a school is achieving its goal. But when 98, 99 or 100 percent of graduates go to college, as is the case with most of Delaware’s private and charter schools, that number isn’t meaningful anymore, says Baldwin. So he drills down further. “I want to know if our kids are getting into their first choice, or their No. 3 or 5 college.”

Even administrators at schools like Conrad and Delaware Academy of Public Safety & Security that have workforce ready tracks, and schools like DMA that can fast-track young men and women into military careers, focus on college acceptance rates. There’s good reason for that: the payoff is there, Hampel says. Over the course of a lifetime, even factoring in student loans, people with a college education still fare financially better than those with a high school diploma or associate’s degree.

So is there any benefit to getting workforce-ready skills in a college prep high school? Absolutely, Hampel says, whether it helps a college-bound student land a part-time job above minimum wage to pay for classes, or to provide options for the student who wants a year or two of real-world experience before choosing a major.

“Keep in mind, in our country more so than others, it’s not that hard to resume higher education,” he says.

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