Panel: Helping Students Rise to the Challenge: What We Are Learning from College Access and Success Programs

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 11 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Ann Kearns Davoren, NORC at the University of Chicago
Panel Chair:  Shazia Miller, NORC at the University of Chicago
Discussants:  Michelle Barton, Bottom Line and Ashley Johnson, Detroit College Access Network

The gap between high- and low-income college enrollments among 16-24 year olds is nearly 20%.[1] And, while the immediate college enrollment rate has not changed significantly since 2000 (it’s currently 67%)[2], the percent of low-income students immediately enrolling in college has experienced disproportionate instability when compared with higher-income students. For example, between 2008 (the onset of the Great Recession) and 2013, low-income students experienced a decline in immediate college enrollment from 56% to 46%.[3] This is especially noteworthy considering that high school graduation rates increased during this same time. In addition to enrolling, completing a degree is a challenge for low-income students, who are significantly less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree within eight years even after controlling for race, gender, academic preparation, and academic aspirations.[4]


College access and success programs have been working to address these gaps in college enrollment and attainment through programs that address the financial, academic, and social barriers low-income students face. This panel will explore three such programs that, through rigorous randomized control trial designs, have documented success in increasing college access and success among this targeted population. While the programmatic components differ slightly across the three programs, one common thread is the multi-faceted approach each takes to confront these inequities. The presentations on these different programs will be followed by two discussants providing a practitioner and funder viewpoint.


The first paper presents the results from a replication study conducted by MDRC of the City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). In addition to requiring participants to enroll full-time and take developmental courses, ASAP offers academic, career, and financial interventions, including structured course enrollment and consolidated course schedules, tutoring support, tuition waivers, textbook vouchers, and public transportation assistance. This program was found to have substantive and significant effects on graduation in New York. This study will present the program adapted for three community colleges in Ohio. The second paper discusses the results from NORC at the University of Chicago’s study of Bottom Line. Bottom Line uses a two-part system of intensive college advising to students during high school and then into college. Students who attend a participating college or university have access to personalized, campus-based support throughout their college career and are advised in four areas, known as DEAL: Degree, Employability, Aid (financial), and Life. The third paper, will discuss the Urban Labs study of One Million Degrees (OMD). OMD supports students financially, academically, personally, and professionally through last-dollar scholarships, skill-building workshops, intensive advising, and coaching.


To provide context to these findings, a practitioner from Bottom Line will discuss what they have learned from developing and implementing the program and from working through the results of the evaluation. In addition, the College Success program officer from the ECMC foundation will discuss what they have learned from the results of these programs and other college success programs and how what has been learned might be expanded and built upon.





Increasing Degree Attainment of Low-Income Community College Students: Preliminary Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial
Kelly Hallberg, Marianne Bertrand, Kenneth Hofmeister and Brittany Morgan, University of Chicago

Doubling Graduation Rates in a New State: Two-Year Findings from the ASAP Ohio Demonstration
Michael Weiss, Colleen Sommo, Dan Cullinan and Michelle Manno, MDRC

Impact of College Advising on Non-Academic Outcomes in Young Adults: Follow-up to the 2014-2015 Bottom Line RCT
Ann Kearns Davoren1, Benjamin L. Castleman2, Andrew Barr3, Karen Grigorian1, Christopher Wong1 and Shana Brown1, (1)NORC at the University of Chicago, (2)University of Virginia, (3)Texas A&M University

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