News Local/State

Illinois Launches College Planning Tool Aimed at Keeping Students In-State


Springfield High School senior Zaire Harris, left, participates in a live demo of the new College2Career app Sam Dunklau/ NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois government wants to keep kids from leaving the state for college. Its latest effort is a website and app that allows students and their parents to compare in-state schools.

It’s called ILCollege2Career, and it gathers data from more than a hundred Illinois colleges and universities on things like majors, job placement, potential salaries, and cost. The tool matches that data with how likely someone is to find a job in a given field — and how much that job might pay.

It’s meant to be a one-stop shop for students looking for the perfect school for their major. The catch is that there’s only data on Illinois schools, aimed at keeping homegrown students in-state.

Jeff Mays heads the Illinois Department of Employment Security. He says the data speaks for itself.

“Illinois has got a wide, wide array of quality programs and great outcomes, should they choose to participate in them," Mays told state officials during a meeting in Springfield. "They don’t need to go anywhere else.”

Even with the in-state limitation, Springfield High School senior Zaire Harris says it’s useful.

“It’s giving you that first step in the door of what your future’s gonna hold," Harris said. "It’s a really good tool to see if, one, ‘Do I wanna stay in-state?’ ‘What are my options and how will that affect me as I go on to my career?’

Numbers for the new academic year haven’t been finalized yet ... but in recent years Illinois lost more college students than every other state except New Jersey.