Screenshot of Sankey diagram on the cover of the report with a purple color gradient on top

Over the past decade, the college enrollment rate for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) graduates has steadily increased, but the college completion rate has remained relatively flat. To ensure more students who begin college finish with a diploma, we need to have a better understanding of what happens to students between the point at which they first enroll and the point at which they exit the post-secondary system.

In this report, we begin unpacking this question by looking at six years of patterns of college enrollment, non-enrollment, and completion for the approximately 63,000 CPS students who graduated high school between 2010 and 2012. Specifically, we look at when students stop out from college, how often they stop out, the type of transitions students make (between two- and four-year institutions and enrolled and not enrolled), and whether or not students complete a degree or certificate. 

Below, you can read the report, explore the new College Pathways Tool that visualizes different groups of students' transitions, or download the research briefs that summarize key findings.

Screenshot of the front cover of the Navigating the Maze research report

Read the report

In Chapter 1, we show the percentage of CPS graduates making transitions between two-year and four-year colleges and between enrollment and non-enrollment. In Chapter 2, we provide a set of mobility categories. In Chapter 3, we examine how the mobility categories vary by students’ race/ethnicity, gender, and high school GPA and ACT scores. In Chapter 4, we provide visualizations that include students’ fall enrollment status, first and second transition points, and students' degree outcomes within six years. In Chapter 5, we describe the implications of our findings. 

A laptop with one of the interactive data visualizations on the College Pathways Tool on its screen sits on a table in a classroom

Explore the College Pathways Tool

The To&Through College Pathways Tool enables users to explore in more detail the pathways different groups of CPS graduates take through college. The tool visualizes the post-secondary transitions that students made between the fall after high school graduation and six years later, and enables users to look at pathways and outcomes for students based on their race/ethnicity or their gender. Hover over different parts of the visualization to see the degree outcomes associated with different types of post-secondary transitions.

Screenshot of the first page of the research brief for students and families next to a screenshot of the first page of the research brief for practitioners

Download the research briefs

Two research briefs — one geared towards students and their families, and another geared towards practitioners — summarize key findings from the Navigating the Maze report. These two-page briefs have both English and Spanish versions, and can be printed as handouts, or the text within the briefs can be incorporated into newsletters.

Screenshot of the blog post on Medium titled Four Common Myths About College Completion

Four Common Myths About College Completion

Our accompanying article on Medium provides a high-level summary of the major findings in the report. 

Understanding CPS Graduates' College Pathways Research Release Webinar

View the research release presentation

Watch the recording of the research release webinar during which the researchers shared key findings and implications from the report, or download their presentation from the event.

Student Perspectives on Supporting Their College Pathways

Watch the panel discussion

On May 20, we hosted a discussion with CPS graduates about their experiences with college transfers and leaves. The discussion provided students' perspectives on how high schools can best prepare students to navigate the current realities of Chicago's post-secondary landscape. Students also discussed how our systems of support can better address the causes and consequences of transfers and leaves for CPS graduates.