Education Report Roundup

Chicago Study Shows Barriers to College

By Catherine Gewertz — March 18, 2008 1 min read

From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Way to College

Only 41 percent of Chicago high school students who say they want to attend a four-year college actually manage to enroll the fall after graduation, a figure that drops to 30 percent among Latino students, a study has found.

The report, released last week by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, is the second in a series of dispatches from an ongoing study of the postsecondary experiences of the district’s students. The research project seeks to identify the stumbling blocks students encounter in trying to go to college.

Researchers found that Latino students were the least likely to plan to go to college, or to apply. Only 60 percent of those who said they aspired to attend a four-year college actually planned to enroll the fall after graduation, compared with 77 percent of African-American and 76 percent of white students.

‘Potholes’ in the Road

Among Chicago seniors who aspired to complete a four-year college degree, only about 60 percent actually applied to higher education.


SOURCE: Consortium on Chicago School Research

In 2005, 83 percent of all Chicago high school seniors said they wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, the study found. But only 59 percent of those students—and just 46 percent among Latinos—actually applied.

Schools with a “strong college-going culture” were “the single most consistent predictor” of whether students took the necessary steps to apply to and enroll in college, the researchers write.

The 409,000-student Chicago school district said it would create a class that helps students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The form is used to determine eligibility for government grants and loans, and many types of college-based financial assistance. The study found that not filing a FAFSA is a key barrier to college enrollment.

See Also

For background, previous stories, and Web links, read College Access.

A version of this article appeared in the March 19, 2008 edition of Education Week