The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

The High School-College Connection in Chicago

Guest Blogger
Christopher Mazzeo
Associate Director for Policy and Outreach
Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR)
University of Chicago

Because many of Mike's entries are on how high schools shape college access, I thought readers would appreciate this new study my organization--the Consortium on Chicago School Research--recently released. The report, “From High School to the Future: Potholes on the Road to College,” (authors: Melissa Roderick, Jenny Nagaoka, Vanessa Coca and Eliza Moeller) shows that a majority of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) graduates-even those with top grades and test scores-do not successfully navigate the college search and application process. While 95 percent of 2005 Chicago graduates hoped to complete some form of postsecondary education, and 90 percent stated that their parents wanted them to attend college after graduation, only 59 percent actually applied to a four-year college and only 41 percent successfully navigated this process and ultimately enrolled the fall after graduation. This drop off is even worse for Latino students, with only 46 percent applying and 30 percent enrolling in a four-year college in the fall after graduation.

Reason? Not parents but schools. Researchers at CCSR found that the single most consistent predictor of whether students took steps toward college enrollment was whether their teachers reported that their high school had a strong college going culture where they and their colleagues pushed students to go to college, worked to ensure that students would be prepared, and were involved in supporting students in completing their college applications. In addition, the college plans and behaviors of Latino students in Chicago are particularly shaped by the expectations of their teachers and counselors and by connections with teachers. This suggests that Latino students may be much more reliant than other students on teachers and their school for guidance and information, and that their college plans are more dependent on their connections to school.

The full report can be downloaded at:


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