Evidence from College and Community Supports Designed to Increase Postsecondary Enrollment and Persistence
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Today, earning a college degree is seen as crucial for future well-being. College graduates earn more, are less likely to suffer job losses in a recession, and are projected to have superior long-term labor market prospects (U.S. Census Bureau 2014; Loprest and Nichols 2011). Despite strong intentions to go to college, many students–between 10 and 40 percent–do not end up enrolling (Castleman, Page and Schooley 2014). Even those who do enroll often drop out during their first year or fail to re-enroll in the second year, with only about 73 percent of students nationally persisting into their second year of college (NSC 2017).
To improve enrollment, persistence, and, ultimately, completion communities and colleges have focused on alleviating barriers to students, particularly those from groups traditionally underrepresented in college. Together the papers in this panel examine the effectiveness of logistical, financial, and social supports provided to college students. The supports differ along potentially important dimensions including from whom and how is the support delivered. The papers also present evidence of effectiveness using a variety of methodologies.
The first paper uses local and focal matching to examine the effects of a community-wide one-on-one coaching program. The Success Boston coaching model draws on nonprofit organizations to provide sustained, proactive, and responsive in-person support to low-income and first-generation students during their first two years of college. The second paper examines the effects of a citywide program—Achieve Atlanta—that combines coaching from nonprofit organization with a scholarship component on college enrollment and persistence. This paper uses regression discontinuity and differences-in-differences analysis understand the impacts of Achieve Atlanta. The third and fourth papers use random assignment designs to generate new evidence. The third paper examines an integrated technology approach, Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS), that several community colleges and open access institutional are using to help advisors focus holistically on students’ college experience. The fourth paper explores the effectiveness of another technology-based intervention, mobile apps. The apps focused on developing community college students’ time management and study skills, and help them access campus supports. The paper examines the impacts of the apps on retention and completion.