Only 41 percent of Osceola high school grads going on to college

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —

As it stands now, only 41 percent of Osceola County's high school graduates are going on to college, Channel 9's Nancy Alvarez learned.

When Samantha Alcala walks the stage this May, she'll be the first in her family not just to go to college but to graduate from high school.

"It feels good.  I feel accomplished," she said.

Alcala credits the counseling she received at Gateway High School with changing the course of her life, but that's not happening for all of the students.

"I'm thinking, what's happening to the other 59 percent of our high school graduates?" asked Kathleen Plinske of Valencia Community College. "What's happening to them?"

Plinske is spearheading "Got College?," a campaign to sell the idea of a secondary education.

Students can expect more dual-enrollment courses, and dozens of community events are planned to educate parents on financial aid.  More mentoring programs will also go into effect.

Plinske said it's a problem that needs to be solved for the sake of the entire county.

"It will be difficult to attract employers to the community if the college rate in our county is low," she said. "They're looking for well-educated employees that can hit the ground running."

In the meantime, Alcala plans to major in education.''

"I see me in a classroom teaching little kids like my brothers, with a nice house and my degree hanging on the wall," she said.