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Keeping College Options Open: A Field Experiment to Help All High School Seniors Through the College Application Process
Last registered on August 18, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Keeping College Options Open: A Field Experiment to Help All High School Seniors Through the College Application Process
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002295
Initial registration date
August 18, 2017
Last updated
August 18, 2017 5:23 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Toronto
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Social Research and Demonstration Corporation
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2011-10-01
End date
2016-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Recent research suggests that the college application process itself prevents access. This paper reports results from a large school-based experiment in which application assistance is incorporated into the high school curriculum for all graduating seniors at low-transition schools. Over three workshops, students were guided to pick programs of interest that they were eligible for, apply for real, and complete the financial aid application. The goal was to create a college option for exiting students to make the transition easier and more salient. On average, the program increased application rates from 64 to 78 per cent. College enrollment increased the following school year by 5.2 percentage points with virtually all of this increase in two-year community college programs. The greatest impact was for students who were not taking any university-track courses in high school: the application rate for these students increased by 24 percentage points with a nine per cent increase in two-year college enrollment. A second experiment was conducted two years later to explore several variations of the program. Offering personal assistance without waiving application fees had a negligible or even negative impact on applications and enrollment. Using laptops in homeroom classrooms instead of sending students to computer labs while combining the initial 2 workshops into one full-morning session increased application rates. However, subsequent enrollment effects were negligible. We provide some evidence consistent with the possibility that decreased guidance in choosing eligible programs was responsible for the second-experiment's decline in enrollment impacts.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Ford, Reuben and Philip Oreopoulos. 2017. "Keeping College Options Open: A Field Experiment to Help All High School Seniors Through the College Application Process." AEA RCT Registry. August 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2295-1.0.
Former Citation
Ford, Reuben, Philip Oreopoulos and Philip Oreopoulos. 2017. "Keeping College Options Open: A Field Experiment to Help All High School Seniors Through the College Application Process." AEA RCT Registry. August 18. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2295/history/20615.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2011-10-01
Intervention End Date
2012-05-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
college program applications, college enrollment
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We targeted schools with the lowest college transition rates in the province, conditional on 1) being commuting distance from a college (within 50km), 2) having at least 100 Grade 12 students recorded in 2007-08 (the latest data we had at the time of recruiting), and 3) not being an adult or alternative education center. Half of these schools were randomized to receive the program, and the other half were assigned to the control group. In cases where there was more than one school within a district, at least one school was assigned to the program, and at least one was assigned to the control group.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
By computer
Randomization Unit
Schools; students (individual)
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
86 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
65,000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
43 schools received the treatment
43 schools in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
May 31, 2012, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
May 31, 2012, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
86 schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
65,000 students
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
43 schools received the treatment 43 schools in the control group
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Abstract
Citation
Oreopoulos, Philip, and Reuben Ford. "Keeping College Options Open: A Field Experiment to Help All High School Seniors Through the College Application Process." NBER Working Paper, June 2016.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS