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Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of InsideTrack’s coaching and mentoring program for recent college dropouts

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the InsideTrack coaching and mentoring program for recent college dropouts from California community colleges or California State University.

Grant recipient: The Curators of the University of Missouri

Term: 2019 –2023

Principal Investigators: Oded Gurantz, Ph.D., University of Missouri

Lesley Turner, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Funding: $360,520

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the InsideTrack coaching and mentoring program for recent college dropouts from California community colleges or California State University. The program’s goal is to increase college re-enrollment and completion.

InsideTrack seeks to engage students who have recently dropped out of college, and to pair them with a college-educated coach who provides personalized assistance in identifying and addressing perceived barriers to remaining in school (e.g., finances, family or work responsibilities). Coaches maintain average caseloads of 700 students.

InsideTrack delivers a similar college counseling program to currently enrolled students (as opposed to student who have recently left college). This sister program has been found in a well-conducted RCT to increase postsecondary persistence and degree completion for the sub-sample of schools with degree completion data. The new RCT will determine whether the positive effects found in the prior RCT extend to an adapted version of the program delivered to students who have recently left college.

The study team will recruit and randomize approximately 14,000 recent former students who received California financial aid and indicate an interest in returning to college to either (i) a treatment group that receives InsideTrack’s re-entry coaching (approximately 4,000 students) or (ii) a control group of the remaining students that receives information about college re-enrollment (but not personalized coaching). The study will measure the program’s impact on college re-enrollment, persistence, and degree completion over a three-year follow-up period, and earnings and student debt over a four-year follow-up period. The primary outcomes specified in the analysis plan will be measured using administrative data from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), with exploratory research questions including outcomes from California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), and Transunion.

The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

Grants

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