College Pathways: Chicago Public Schools 2010-2012 Graduates

This College Pathways Tool explores the pathways different groups of students take through college. More Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students are enrolling in college than ever before. Our Milestones Tool shows where students enroll the fall after they graduate from high school, and whether they completed a degree or certificate 6 years later. But what happens in between?

College Pathways by Fall Enrollment Status

Reading from left to right, the first section of the figure shows where students were in the fall after high school graduation. The next section of the figure shows whether a student made a transition within 2 years of high school graduation. The following section shows whether students made a second transition within 6 years of high school graduation. (Some students may have experienced more transitions. Only those students’ first 2 transitions are shown.) The final section of the figure shows students' completion outcomes within 6 years of high school graduation.

Guiding Questions:

  • How common is enrollment in a 2-year institution at some point within 6 years?
  • How common is stopping out? What about re-enrolling?
  • How many of these students eventually complete a degree/certificate?

Guiding Questions:

  • How common is it for students to eventually enroll in a 4-year college?
  • How common is stopping out? What about re-enrolling?
  • How many of these students eventually complete a degree/certificate?

Guiding Questions:

  • How many of these students eventually enroll in college within 6 years? (Note: some students may have enrolled during the summer, which is not reflected in this dataset.)
  • If they do enroll, do they go to 2-year or 4-year colleges?
  • How many of these students eventually complete a degree or certificate?

College Pathways by Degree/Certificate Outcomes

Guiding Questions:

  • Of all students who completed a 4-year degree within 6 years, how many had enrolled in a 4-year college immediately after high school?
  • Of students who immediately enrolled in a 2-year college after high school, what percentage completed a 4-year degree within 6 years?
  • Of students who completed a 4-year degree, were they more likely to have immediately enrolled in a 2-year college or to have not immediately enrolled?

Guiding Questions:

  • Of students who completed a 2-year degree or certificate within 6 years, how many had enrolled in a 2-year college immediately after high school graduation?
  • Of students who completed a 2-year degree or certificate, were they more likely to have immediately enrolled in a 4-year college or to have not immediately enrolled in college?

Guiding Questions:

  • Of students who did not complete a degree or certificate within 6 years, where were most students in the fall after high school graduation?
  • Of students who immediately enrolled in a 2-year college after high school, how many did not complete a degree or certificate within 6 years?
  • Of students who did not complete a degree or certificate within 6 years, were they more likely to have immediately enrolled in a 2-year college or to have not immediately enrolled in college?

College Pathways Research

These visualizations illustrate the data in our report “Navigating the Maze: Understanding CPS Graduates’ Paths Through College.” In this report, we look at 6 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. By examining the timing, type, and frequency of transitions students are experiencing, and how those differ by student groups, we hope to understand the ways in which high schools can better prepare students to navigate the post-secondary landscape, where higher education needs to adjust their structures and supports, and where research should delve deeper to better understand why students are making the transitions we observe.

Definitions

Note to users: Throughout this report and the visualizations above, we show the college pathways of 2010-2012 CPS graduates because these are the most recent cohorts with 6 years’ worth of college enrollment and completion data (typically, students are given 6 years to complete a bachelor’s degree “on time”). We only include fall and spring terms and do not include summer enrollments. We focus on movement between 4-year and 2-year colleges rather than the lateral transfers between 4-year institutions or between 2-year institutions, since prior research has found that students making lateral transfers are equally likely to complete a 4-year degree as students who remain enrolled in their original college (Shapiro et al., 2015).

Pathway

We define a pathway as a semester-by-semester combination of enrollment and non-enrollment in 2-year and 4-year institutions over the course of 6 years after high school graduation. The first transition and second transitions students made after the fall semester following their high school graduation are visualized in this tool, as defined below.

Immediate 4-year enrollees

Students who enrolled in a 4-year college the fall after graduating from high school.

Immediate 2-year enrollees

Students who enrolled in a 2-year college the fall after graduating from high school.

Did not immediately enroll

Students who did not enroll in college the fall after graduating from high school.

First transition

Students who immediately enrolled in college are grouped based on whether they did one of the following in the first 2 years: 1) persisted in the same type of institution they started in; 2) transferred institution types (e.g., transferred from a 4-year college to a 2-year college); or 3) stopped out early.

Students who did not immediately enroll in college are grouped based on whether they did one of the following within 2 years of high school graduation: 1) enrolled in a 4-year college; 2) enrolled in a 2-year college; or 3) remained unenrolled.

Persisted in 4-year

Students who were enrolled continuously (no semesters off) in 4-year institutions during the first 2 years following high school graduation, or completed a college degree or certificate within these 2 years (with continuous enrollment).

Persisted in 2-year

Students who were enrolled continuously (no semesters off) in 2-year institutions during the first 2 years following high school graduation, or completed a 2-year degree or certificate within these 2 years (with continuous enrollment).

Transferred to 4-year

Students who immediately enrolled in a 2-year college and transferred to a 4-year college within the first 2 years following high school graduation (with continuous enrollment).

Transferred to 2-year

Students who immediately enrolled in a 4-year and transferred to a 2-year college within the first 2 years following high school graduation (with continuous enrollment).

Stopped out early

Students who were not enrolled during at least one fall or spring semester of the first 2 years following high school graduation, regardless of whether students returned to college or not.

Delayed enrollment in 4-year

Students who did not immediately enroll in college and enrolled in a 4-year college as their first enrollment within 2 years of high school graduation.

Delayed enrollment in 2-year

Students who did not immediately enroll in college and enrolled in a 2-year college as their first enrollment within 2 years of high school graduation.

Remained unenrolled

Students who had no observable records of enrollment within 2 years of high school graduation.

Second Transition

Students’ second transition is based on students’ next immediate transition (or lack of transition if students remained continuously enrolled) after their first transition. While students’ “first transition” is defined as happening within 2 years of high school graduation, the time frame for their “next transition” is much more flexible, occurring anytime between their first transition and 6 years after high school graduation.

Completed 4-year degree

Students who completed a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of high school graduation.

Completed 2-year degree or certificate

Students who completed an associate degree or certificate within 6 years of high school graduation. Students who completed a bachelor’s degree in addition to an associate degree or certificate are counted in the “completed 4-year degree” category.

No degree completion

Students who did not complete a 4-year degree, 2-year degree, or certificate within 6 years of high school graduation.

Pathways Examples

The table below shows three examples of possible pathways a student could take through the six years following high school graduation.

Student progression through 6 years (12 semesters) of college Sem 1 Sem 2 Sem 3 Sem 4 Sem 5 Sem 6 Sem 7 Sem 8 Sem 9 Sem 10 Sem 11 Sem 12 4 4 N 4 4 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 2 2 2 2* 2 2 4 4 4 4 4 4 N 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Student A Student B Student C Key First Transition Second Transition 4 Enrolled in a 4-year college 2 Enrolled in a 2-year college N Not enrolled * Note: Student B is an example of a student who did not experience a transition in the first two years, and so the student would be in the “persisted in 2-year” category because Student B remained continuously enrolled in a 2-year institution for 4 semesters beginning the fall after high school graduation.

Student A was enrolled in a 4-year college for the first two semesters, then was not enrolled in college in semester 3, which marks their first transition and puts them in the "stopped out early" category. They re-enrolled in a 4-year in semester 4, which marks their second transition. They remained enrolled in a 4-year until semester 10, when they transferred to a 2-year college and remained through semester 12. This last transition is not highlighted because our report only follows a student's first two transitions.

Student B was continuously enrolled in a 2-year college for the first six semesters. They did not experience a transition during the first two years, so they are in the "persisted in 2-year" category. Their first transition came at semester 7, when they transferred to a 4-year college, where they remained enrolled through semester 12.

Student C was not immediately enrolled in college the first semester after high school graduation. Their first transition came at semester 2, when they enrolled in a 4-year college, which puts them in the "delayed 4-year enrollment category". They remained enrolled in a 4-year through semester 12.