Students who earned B’s at public high schools in Illinois average a C+ at state universities and community colleges, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis of graduates from 2006 to 2008. College-bound graduates averaged a 3.08 in high school, but only a 2.52 at state universities and community colleges. Some high school’s graduates did much better than others.
“More and more students seem to be less prepared for college; particularly math and English skills are not where we would like them to be when they come to college,” said Chancellor Rita Cheng, at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Freshmen there finished their first year with a 2.52 GPA.
The average community college student earned a 2.84 grade point average in high school and a 2.3 in the first year of college, while those who enrolled in four-year public universities declined from a 3.37 in high school to a 2.78 in their first year.
Only 29 of more than 600 public high schools graduated students who averaged a 3.0 or better at state universities in their first year.
College and K-12 officials blame the performance declines on myriad factors, from inadequate high school preparation to high school grade inflation, new-found independence and increased partying away from home.
Grades often improve after the first year — if students make it that far.
At my alma mater, Highland Park High School, graduates who went on to a state university or community college averaged a 3.33 high school GPA, but only a 2.85 in their first year of college, according to the searchable data base.
Graduates of several dozen Chicago-area high schools earned first-year GPAs lower than 2.0, often the benchmark for academic probation.