The first step to solving a problem is understanding it. We embarked on a journey to visualize the many low-income middle schoolers who aspire to attend college but who mostly don’t end up actually graduating. We mapped out all of the factors behind this tragically low college completion rates which served as a stimulus for innovators to tackle this problem.
First, we identified the root causes of student success and created an infographic that makes them easy to understand. We performed “what if” exercises to spark creative thinking for a Facebook hackathon and prize competition which focused on using tech to get students not just to college — but through it.
Next we laid out the positive and negative elements that influence the student’s progression and asked why some students, most of them from wealthier households, successfully earn a 2- or 4-year degree. From our exploration we identified behaviors, beliefs and environmental factors that either increase or decrease the likelihood that students would earn a 2- or 4-year degree and brainstormed how negative factors can be mitigated.