May 18 2016

Intensive College Counseling and the Enrollment and Persistence of Low Income Students

Though counseling is one commonly pursued intervention to improve college enrollment and completion for disadvantaged students, there is relatively little causal evidence on its efficacy. We use a regression discontinuity design to study the impact of intensive college counseling provided to college-seeking, low income students by a Massachusetts program that admits applicants partly on the basis of a minimum GPA requirement. Counseling shifts enrollment toward four-year colleges that are less expensive and have higher graduation rates than alternatives students would otherwise choose. Counseling also improves persistence through at least the second year of college, suggesting potential to increase the degree completion rates of disadvantaged students.