College Advising at a National Scale: Experimental Evidence from the CollegePoint Initiative

Last registered on October 20, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
College Advising at a National Scale: Experimental Evidence from the CollegePoint Initiative
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008379
Initial registration date
October 18, 2021
Last updated
October 20, 2021, 1:52 PM EDT

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Virginia

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Federal Trade Commission
PI Affiliation
Stanford University
PI Affiliation
UC-Berkeley

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2017-04-01
End date
2024-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
In-person college advising programs generate large improvements in college persistence and success for low-income students but face numerous barriers to scale. Remote advising models offer a promising strategy to address informational and assistance barriers facing the substantial majority of low-income students who do not have access to community-based advising, yet the existing evidence base on the efficacy of remote advising is limited. We present a comprehensive, multi-cohort experimental evaluation of CollegePoint, a national remote college advising program for high-achieving low- and moderate-income students. Students assigned to CollegePoint are modestly more likely (1.3 percentage points) to attend higher-quality institutions. Results from mechanism experiments we conducted within CollegePoint indicate that moderate changes to the program model, such as a longer duration of advising and modest expansions of the pool of students academically eligible to participate, do not lead to larger program effects. We also capitalize on across-cohort variation in whether students were affected by COVID-19 to investigate whether social distancing required by the pandemic increased the value of remote advising. CollegePoint increased attendance at higher-quality institutions by 3.2 percentage points for the COVID-19-affected cohort.

Registration Citation

Citation
Bettinger, Eric et al. 2021. "College Advising at a National Scale: Experimental Evidence from the CollegePoint Initiative." AEA RCT Registry. October 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8379-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
CollegePoint is a national remote college advising program that matches high-achieving, low- and moderate-income high school juniors and seniors with college advisors who provide one-on-one support with college exploration and preparation, college, financial aid, and scholarship applications, and college choice. College advisors begin working with students between the spring of their junior year of high school and the fall of their senior year of high school, and conclude advising during the summer after students graduate from high school.
Intervention Start Date
2017-04-01
Intervention End Date
2020-08-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome of interest is whether students attend a “CollegePoint” college or university. The CollegePoint program identified a list of approximately 275 colleges and universities that have graduation rates of 70 percent or higher. We define our primary outcome as an indicator for whether students attend one of the colleges or universities on this list or not.

Another primary outcome of interest is whether students remain enrolled at a CollegePoint school, and separately whether they remain continuously enrolled at a CollegePoint school, during the 2nd and 3rd years following high school graduation.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We have multiple secondary outcomes. As additional measures of the quality of students’ enrollment and persistence, we estimate the share of students that attend institutions at different levels of Barron’s selectivity (1 is the most highly-selective institutions, 4+ are less selective institutions).

We estimate impacts of the program separately by each of the three experimental cohorts: high school classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020.

We also estimate impacts by organization, within the experimental sample assigned to each of the four organizations that provide advising as part of the CollegePoint initiative.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
CollegePoint recruited students through the College Board and other partners. Among students who indicated interest in participating and who met the academic (90th percentile or higher of the SAT distribution; 3.5 GPA or higher) and income eligibility criteria (family income of $80,000 or lower), students from the high school classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 were randomly assigned to receive CollegePoint advising or to a control group that did not receive support from the program.

In addition we conducted two mechanism experiments. In the first mechanism experiment, students were randomly assigned to begin advising during the spring of their junior year or in the fall of their senior year. In the second mechanism experiment, students from a modestly lower segment of the academic distribution (85th - 89th percentile in the SAT distribution) were randomly assigned to CollegePoint advising or to a control group that did not receive support from the program.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
CollegePoint contracted with Evaluation and Assessment Solutions for Education (EASE) to conduct the randomization. EASE used Stata to conduct randomization.
Randomization Unit
Among students who indicated interest in CollegePoint and who met the eligibility criteria, randomization took place at the student*sign-up wave-level. As students were recruited and expressed interest between April and October of each calendar year, eligible students were randomly assigned to CollegePoint or to the control group. The randomization occurred with a frequency that varied between daily and weekly depending on the number of students who expressed interest since the last randomization occurred.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
N/A
Sample size: planned number of observations
25,696
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
25,696
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Virginia
IRB Approval Date
2018-08-22
IRB Approval Number
2014-0322-00