Sara and I started Open Campus three years ago with the goal of expanding and improving coverage of all facets of higher education. We talk often about the wide range of college experiences that Americans have — community colleges, regional publics, online graduate degrees — and hope our national and local reporters’ work can hold all parts of the system accountable for their diverse missions.
A well-known secret, though, is that Sara and I had the same college experience. Like, the exact same.
We both went to Northwestern University in the 1990s, where we both studied journalism. We both even got graduate degrees there. Surprisingly, we never crossed paths, but we did develop a shared love for Chicago
So that adds to our excitement as we announce the newest partner in our local network. With support from the Joyce Foundation, we’re adding a dedicated reporter on the higher-ed beat to WBEZ Chicago, the city’s public radio outlet.
We are looking for a reporter who can produce enterprise work, high-quality daily stories and investigations for web and audio both independently and as part of a team of four reporters and a senior editor. Our aim is to be the dominant source for education news in the Chicago area.
With changes to the Chicago journalism landscape, there’s been little dedicated reporting on higher ed in recent years in the nation’s third largest city. We’re excited to dig into the issues there. Chicagoland is home to major research universities, countless smaller colleges, and a large community college system. Plus, across Illinois, colleges have weathered uncertain state funding for years as well as the declining enrollments that plague many Midwestern institutions.
That’s to say, the stories are plentiful. And because I can’t resist sharing a graphic, I’ll leave you with some data points from a team called The To&Through Project
at the University of Chicago
They’ve created a wealth of data and research about educational attainment for Chicago Public Schools students. As someone who pokes around looking for this sort of information in countless states and cities, I can say their tools are excellent.
In recent years, they’ve devised something they call the Post-Secondary Attainment index to combine both current high school and college attainment metrics. The data isn’t about a single cohort of students but you can think about this way: If rates were not to change from current ones, of 100 current CPS ninth-graders, then …
- 83 would end up graduating from high school.
- 51 would immediately enroll in either a four- or two-year college.
- And six years after high school, a total of 27 would have completed some type of credential.
But those ninth graders had much different aspirations: 75 percent of them had said they hoped to get at least an associates degree.