The Freshman Problem

“The best way to ensure students graduate high school, and do well in college, is to ensure they have success their freshman year.”

This is what Joyce, a freshman success coach who spends her days strategizing with high school teachers on how to support students, told me.

Research spearheaded by Melissa Rodrick at the University of Chicago found that a 3.0+ GPA your freshman year is a better indicator of graduating from high school than race, socioeconomic status, prior achievement record, and various other factors combined.


If you get anything below a 3.0 your freshman year it’s really hard to turn that into an A or B, which can have a dramatic effect on your ability to secure a job after high school and get into college.

By focusing on freshmen in high school the public schools of Chicago decreased drop out rates from 50% to 13%.

83% of high school freshman are graduating!

That’s the power of isolating the problem and digging in. Hats off to the University of Chicago!

Photo by Mike Palmowski on Unsplash.

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