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New IES Report Offers Evidence on Programs that Increase College Enrollment through Summer Supports

If disadvantaged high school students succeed through the stressful process of applying to colleges, why are there still a significant number of students who plan to attend college that do not ultimately enroll in the fall?
For some, the problem is in the summer when high school support systems are gone, leaving students alone to handle the steps needed to successfully matriculate into college. This can be especially daunting for low-income and first generation college students.
“Colleges typically require students to take placement exams, enroll for classes, set financial aid arrangements, have health insurance, complete all housing and medical forms, and more in the summer months after graduation,” said Michael Frye, associate/scientist at Abt Global. “Students without the right support may abandon their college ambitions, resulting in what we call ‘the summer melt.’”
As technical leads on the What Works Clearinghouse Postsecondary Education, Postsecondary Preparation and Evidence Reporting (WWC-PEPPER) project, Abt has been charged by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to provide clear guidance on effective interventions and strategies that help students prepare for and succeed at the postsecondary level.  In this vein, Abt synthesized findings from five studies of summer counseling programs that meet the WWC evidence standards.  Each of the programs assessed had the goal of increasing the number of students who successfully enroll in college, particularly among disadvantaged students at risk of not matriculating. Programs provided summer outreach from college counselors and peer mentors through a variety of modes including text messaging campaigns, email, phone, in-person meetings, instant messaging, or social media. Assistance in overcoming unanticipated financial, informational, and socioemotional barriers was made available through these programs.
The five studies included about 13,600 recent high school graduates in 10 locations. The synthesis of findings across these studies shows that the summer counseling programs had mixed effects on college access and enrollment, and potentially positive effects on credit accumulation and persistence.

Read the full report.

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