Increasing College Enrollment Through Fast Track Acceptances and Targeted Mentoring By Guidance Departments and Admissions Officers
Project Outcomes Statement
This NSF Grant enabled a detailed study of several ways in which high school seniors can be encouraged to apply to college and to persist in college once there. A large set of New Hampshire high school guidance departments were asked to identify high school seniors who had expressed interest in attending college but had taken few or no steps towards applying. The high school seniors were randomly assigned to different treatment groups to enable the researchers to determine what policies are most effective at aiding students. The most intensive intervention involved assigning students to a mentor (a college student) who worked with the high school student over several months to complete applications to multiple colleges. This intervention was found to be highly effective at both increasing rates of application but more importantly increasing college attendance and persistence. Outcomes of the treatment group are compared to a control group which received business as usual / standard advising.
The study also tested interventions designed to help community college students persist in college and graduate. The main hypothesis is that college students are dropping out in part due to difficulties navigating different aspects of college life including major choice, course selection, the financial aid system etc. Two interventions were tested relative to a “business as usual” control group. Some randomly chosen students were offered Auto Advising via text messages. Auto Advising consisted of a series of text message reminders which alert students to key deadlines and to connect the students with on campus resources. Another group of randomly chosen students were assigned to a College Access Navigator who met with the students on a bi-weekly or more frequent basis. The College Access Navigator worked with students to identify and solve roadblocks to success including financial aid issues, course performance issues, or problems around major requirements or transfer credit.
Both treatments were very successful in promoting persistence in community college and graduation. College dropout rates were reduced from 38 percentage points to less than 20 percentage points. The college that hosted the experiment has since decided to implement both treatments for all incoming students.
This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number 1260928.
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- Author: Shane Greenstein