One in two 18-year-olds today won't go to college, and one in two who enroll will drop out. These are separate problems -- indifferent students and ill-matched students -- but one company called ConnectEDU is trying to solve both of them. They're building a national online dashboard to keep parents and students on the road to graduation and they're collecting data on achievement, graduation rates and employment to better match students with schools. The following essay by the founder and CEO of ConnectEDU is adapted from a conversation with The Atlantic.
Here is what ConnectEDU wants to do in three steps. First, we want to pull data on every 7th to 12th grader, what classes they are in, how they are performing, and what are their aspirations. Second, we want to give them tools like an online dashboard to keep them on track with their goals and benchmark their progress against a plan that has them graduating on time from high school. Third, after college graduation, we want to stay in touch with them about gainful employment.
Matching the right student with the right school is important. It's a huge part of what we do. But we also want to fix the problem before the matching process. For kids who don't have an advocate. For K-12 schools with a 500-1 student guidance counselor ratio. There are zip codes where college is an obsession for parents, and there are zip codes where parents and students who aren't even aware of all the things they don't know.
Take Detroit, for example. At one Detroit public school I saw, they didn't know if the students had taken the right math class in sophomore year until two weeks before graduation. That was a kid who said he wanted to go to college! Even when you're compelled to achieve, you need people to tell you where to enroll and what classes to take. That Detroit kid has to go back to high school for the summer. He doesn't graduate on time. He becomes a part of a statistic with a single-digit chance of completing college on time. Bad information doomed him.