Missing the Bus: Colorado’s Elite College Access Gap

Social mobility has been a longstanding part of our American ideology, even as the country becomes increasingly stratified. Inequality in the United States is now at its highest point since the Great Depression. Education—and more recently, higher education—has been a critical driver of social mobility.

This report paints a picture of current and future social mobility in Colorado through the distinct lens of college enrollment data. We seek to examine the college access gap—and most importantly, the elite college access gap—in the state, by exploring the districts and high schools that are the most successful at sending graduates to the nation’s best colleges. We believe this is a critical lens through which to gauge the potential social mobility in Colorado because all colleges are not equal and because some offer distinct life advantages over other colleges. By identifying the elite college enrollment gap, we hope to start a dialogue about how to improve the K-12-to-college pipeline, particularly for populations that have traditionally been underrepresented in elite higher education institutions, and ultimately, to impact the foundation of our state’s success.

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