SANTA FE — The New Mexico Higher Education Department (NMHED), Public Education Department (PED) and College Connect New Mexico (CCNM) will celebrate students who have decided to continue their education beyond high school during New Mexico College and Career Signing Day May 4.
High school seniors and other college-bound New Mexicans will be recognized in a video celebration that will stream on the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Facebook page at 3 p.m. May 4. Students and community leaders from across New Mexico submitted photos and videos announcing their college, trade school or training program of choice.
“Making the decision to pursue education beyond high school is one of the most important decisions New Mexicans will make in their lifetimes, and has long-lasting impacts for themselves, their families and communities,” NMHED Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said. “Whether you will be attending a community college, university, trade school or military training, higher education means more opportunities, better lifetime earnings and the chance to pursue a fulfilling career.”
“Every New Mexican should be proud of these students who are not only graduating amid a pandemic but committing to continued education,” PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “We all know that 12 years of schooling is no longer sufficient for most students to succeed in today’s economy, and on this day, we celebrate those who heard that message and are investing more time and energy to better prepare themselves to be successful in life.”
In New Mexico, 70 percent of jobs now require training or education beyond high school. Median earnings for associate degree holders working full time were 24 percent higher, according to a recent study by the College Board. For those with bachelor’s degrees, earnings were 61 percent higher than for individuals with only a high school diploma. Unemployment rates are 2.8 percent for associate-degree holders, 2.1 percent for bachelor’s degree-holders and 4.1 percent for those with a high school diploma.
“Applying to college was important to me because I will be the first one in my family to attend college to get closer to my dream job,” Capital High School Senior Charlotte Fritz said. “I have decided to attend Santa Fe Community College for my associate degree, and then I want to transfer to the University of New Mexico for my bachelor’s degree.”
College and Career Signing Day seeks not only to recognize current college-bound students but to encourage all students to pursue higher education. The initiative is part of a state and national movement to increase the number of students applying to college and completing financial aid applications.
Together with the state Higher Education and Public Education Departments, community organizations such as College Connect NM, the New Mexico Educational Assistance Foundation and the New Mexico College Access Council partner throughout the year to increase college-going rates of New Mexico students.
Students attending New Mexico public and Tribal colleges and universities can benefit from $27.6 million in state financial aid including the New Mexico Opportunity and Lottery scholarships, and hundreds of millions more in federal aid including Pell Grants and work study.
Students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and work with the financial aid office at their college or university. For more information about scholarships, grants, and other financial aid programs, visit www.hed.state.nm.us.