Castleman: To Level the Playing Field in College Completion: Invest in Advising

Students testing in classroom, Ben Castleman,  Andrew Barr, College Completion and Advising
(iStock Photo)

The scaled-back version of president Biden’s signature Build Back Better plan only heightens the importance of investing limited resources in evidence-based strategies. Our research suggests that college advising models can close the gap in degree attainment between academically-prepared students from the bottom and top quartile of family income and substantially reduce racial gaps.

In a new working paper released Thursday, we show that intensive college advising leads to large increases in the share of low-income high school seniors that earn their bachelor’s degree.

The college advising program we study, “Bottom Line,” operates in several cities across the U.S.; prior to the start of senior year in high school, we worked with Bottom Line to randomly assign applicants to the program to either receive Bottom Line advising or to a control group that did not get advising from Bottom Line, but who were free to access other college advising supports in their schools or communities.

Students randomly assigned to Bottom Line were 16 percent more likely than control group students to earn a bachelor’s degree within five years.

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Benjamin Castleman

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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