No. 1 college choice for Missouri high school grads? ACT says it’s not Mizzou

Mizzou is no longer Missouri high school graduates’ first choice for college, according to ACT data
Mizzou is no longer Missouri high school graduates’ first choice for college, according to ACT data

Missouri State University — for the first time in at least the last five years — has topped MU as the No. 1 choice among students who took the ACT exam.

The ACT is the standardized college admission exam taken throughout the country. Last year, all of Missouri’s high school graduates took the test.

About 78 percent — or 53,000 students — of the graduating class of 2017 chose to reveal their top choice for college to the test-taking company.

Of those, 8.5 percent — more than 4,500 — selected Missouri State in Springfield as their first choice.

About 7.7 percent chose the University of Missouri — the state’s flagship — as their first choice. That’s down from four years ago.

This is just the latest blow to MU, which has been struggling to recoup its reputation since 2015 when racially charged student-lead protests erupted on the Columbia campus.

Two years earlier in 2013, nearly 14 percent of the ACT takers who opted to reveal their top school in the state said MU was their No. 1 choice.

The ACT helps colleges see which students score high enough to manage the academic rigor presented in their schools. Students choose which schools they want to receive their ACT scores and pick their top school they want to attend.

The top four schools picked as the first choice by Missouri ACT takers in 2017 were Missouri State, MU, University of Central Missouri, and University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Events of 2015 — which included the toppling of two top administrators — have had a tremendous impact on MU. Freshman enrollment has fallen by more than 35 percent since then and school administrators have attributed the decline, in part, to the racial upheaval two years ago.

Ed Colby, a spokesman for ACT Inc, said every member of the state’s most recent graduating class, or 68,480, took the ACT last year.

“So essentially these numbers are very representative of what Missouri graduates were planning because 100 percent of them took the test.”

The University of Missouri’s reputation, and enrollment, still reel from racial protests. Seven things about Mizzou's declining enrollment.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc