After graduating high school in June, a large majority of Bend-La Pine Schools’ class of 2018 decided to stay on the West Coast for college.

Over 45 percent of the district’s graduating students, or 562 in total, planned to attend Oregon universities or community colleges, according to Bend-La Pine Schools data released earlier this month. Another 91 students planned on attending colleges in Washington or California.

A few students planned to attend prestigious universities. Stanford, Northwestern, Georgetown, Yale and Cornell each accepted one Bend-La Pine student. Last year, no Bend-La Pine students attended an Ivy League school. One attended Stanford.

A few also went to “Public Ivies” like University of California-Berkeley, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Washington. One student was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, while 32 enlisted in various branches of the military.

The class of 2018 earned more than $13 million in scholarships, about $1.6 million more than last year’s graduating class, according to the district.

The most popular college for Bend-La Pine’s grads, by a landslide, was Central Oregon Community College with 289 planning to attend. COCC has nearly triple the number of 2018 Bend-La Pine graduates in its ranks as Oregon State University, the second-most popular college for the district’s students. In 2017, 351 Bend-La Pine graduates attended COCC.

Joining COCC was especially enticing to Mountain View High School’s students — the community college noted that 34 percent of the high school’s grads became Bobcats.

Bend-La Pine obtained its numbers by asking graduates in June where they planned on attending university, so the data isn’t exact enrollment statistics, said district spokeswoman Alandra Johnson. COCC spokesman Ron Paradis added that the community college’s enrollment tends to receive a bump in the winter, as some students don’t attend until after the holidays.

Paradis said it’s common for the community college to receive a large chunk of Central Oregon’s high school grads — this year, 22 percent of graduates in their region, which includes Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties, as well as far-north Klamath and Lake counties, attended COCC.

Reasons for the high enrollment, according to Paradis, include students earning COCC credits before graduating, the ability to get a degree or certificate in just a year or two and the availability of Oregon Promise grants, which pay for almost all in-state community college tuition costs for Oregon high schoolers who earn at least a 2.0 GPA. That last factor might be a reason why multiple local students planned on attending community colleges in other parts of the state, from Eugene to Portland to Coos Bay.

Paradis added that there might be one more major factor in local students choosing COCC: It’s close to home.

“We’re local, and some people don’t want to leave, aren’t ready to leave,” he said.

Bend’s other higher education institution, OSU-­Cascades, had a smaller group of Bend-La Pine students than the main campus in Corvallis. The district reported that 77 grads went to OSU, while 13 stayed in Bend to become Beavers, three fewer than the class of 2017.

The growing local university was the fifth-most-­popular college for Bend-La Pine grads, behind COCC, OSU-Corvallis, University of Oregon and Boise State University.

Local grads who left Oregon mostly stayed on the West Coast. Forty nine students chose California colleges —the most popular being California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo — while 42 traveled north to Washington with 11 choosing to attend Washington State University.

Private Christian universities Gonzaga and Whitworth, in Spokane, Washington, drew in more Bend-La Pine grads than any university in Seattle or Tacoma. Two students attended Whitman College in Walla Walla.

Not every student stayed in the West.

A handful of grads wound up in universities and community colleges around the nation, even in Alaska and Hawaii.

Eleven students left the U.S. for Europe or Canada, with plans to attend schools such as the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Universitat de Barcelona and the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

“We’re pleased that so many of our students are prepared and able and ready for options after high school, whether that be trade school, a military job or university enrollment,” said Bend-La Pine Deputy Superintendent Jay Mathisen. “For us, it’s quite cool to see them being accepted all over the country and some overseas as well.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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