Some of the most basic information can also be the hardest to come by—and data about who moves on to what level of education, and when, is a classic case in point. Official education statistics often omit students when they switch schools, or when they drop out and then re-enroll. As a result, there is disagreement over precise numbers. The chart below, derived from a study that followed 12,000 eighth-graders from 1988 through 2000, represents the Department of Education's best available snapshot of what percentage of young people make it through college within twelve years of leaving the eighth grade.
Sources: National Center for Education Statistics; National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988/2000 Postsecondary Transcript Files.