This was a mentoring program in which high school juniors had regularly scheduled one-on-one contacts with trained college advisors to increase college attendance rates. The program is rated No Effects. The program was shown to have small positive effects on enrollment rates and number of months enrolled in California State University and University of California campuses, but did not have statistically significant effects on 2-year, 4-year, or overall college enrollment or months of attendance.
This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.
Program Goals/Target Population
The SOURCE (Student Outreach for College Enrollment) Program was a mentoring intervention in which college undergraduate and graduate students guided participating youths through a series of steps for application to college and receipt of financial aid. The primary goal of the program was to increase college attendance rates.
The program was targeted toward academically qualified students from low-income families in an urban community. Eligible students were high school juniors from the school district who had a 2.5 or higher GPA and whose course distribution was in alignment with the requirements of the California State University (CSU) system.
Eligible participants were recruited into the program in May of their junior year of high school and engaged in the program for a 12-month period. Each participating student was paired with one college advisor. The advisors made regular contact with their advisees via in-person meetings, phone calls, emails, IM chats, texts, and other means. During these contacts, advisors provided advice and support, encouragement, and reminders. The contacts were aimed at having students complete a series of college and financial-aid application steps, which included 1) completing a college admissions test (SAT, PSAT, or ACT); 2) completing high school coursework required for entry into the CSU system; 3) drafting and revising college application essays; 4) developing a list of colleges for application; 5) completing and submitting applications by the required deadline; 6) identifying and completing applications for scholarship and financial aid, including filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); and 7) choosing an appropriate college.
Advisors were recruited from undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in local colleges and universities. Advisors were similar in age to the participating students; had attended the same school district; and were often of the same ethnicity, first-generation college students, and/or Spanish-speaking. They received a curriculum-based training and were provided a series of six half-day trainings throughout the program period on key aspects of the college and financial-aid application processes. Staff of the agency supporting the program also provided ongoing guidance to advisors on specific strategies and techniques to increase student engagement and participation. Advisors received a monthly salary for their work as well as bonuses tied to individual student achievement of program milestones. Each advisor was assigned approximately 15 high school juniors.
The program team also included three coordinators (of which two also served as advisors). In addition, the program also provided participating students and their parents with free tax-preparation services for the year prior to their application to college via vouchers from an outside tax preparation company.
The program was based on the COACH (College Opportunity and Career Help) program (Avery and Kane 2004), in which Harvard University undergraduate students were paired with high school seniors. The university students served as coaches to assist the students in making future plans and submitting college and financial-aid applications. Each coach worked with the same students throughout the school year.
Bos and colleagues (2012) found that students in the SOURCE program had significantly more positive outcomes on California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) enrollment, compared with students in the control condition; however, the groups did not differ on the other outcomes evaluated as part of the review.
Enrolled in Any College
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly 36 months post-program in the percentage enrolled in any college.
Months Enrolled in Any College
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly at the 36-month posttest in the number of months enrolled in any college.
Enrolled at CSU and/or UC
At 36 months post-program, a significantly higher percentage of students in the SOURCE program were enrolled at CSU and/or UC campuses, compared with those in the control group (the associated effect size indicated an impact of small magnitude).
Months Enrolled in CSU and/or UC
At the 36-month posttest, students in the SOURCE program had enrolled at CSU and/or UC campuses for significantly more months, compared with those in the control group (the associated effect size indicated an impact of small magnitude).
Enrolled in a 2-Year College
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly at the 36-month posttest in the percentage enrolled in a 2-year college.
Months Enrolled in a 2-Year College
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly at the 36-month posttest in the number of months enrolled in a 2-year college.
Enrolled in a 4-Year College
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly at the 36-month posttest in the percentage enrolled in a 4-year college.
Months Enrolled in a 4-Year College (36 months post-program)
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly at the 36-month posttest in the number of months enrolled in a4-year college.
Transferred from a 2-Year to a 4-Year College
The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly at the 36-month posttest in the percentage who transferred from a 2-year to a 4-year college.
Bos and colleagues (2012) used an experimental design to evaluate the SOURCE program in a sample of high school juniors from schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Students in this district were predominantly Latino/a and economically disadvantaged, based on qualification for free or reduced lunch. Eligible students were recruited by letters sent to students and families, flyers distributed at college fairs, and information sent to high school counselors. After obtaining informed consent from students and their parents or guardians, students were randomly assigned to the intervention (SOURCE program) or a control group. Each student in the intervention group was matched with an advisor (either 1 of 67 college student advisors or 1 of 2 coordinators who also served as advisors). College advisors worked individually with each of their assigned students to guide them through a set sequence of college and financial-aid application steps. The control group received usual services for students through the school system.
Of approximately 15,000 students targeted for recruitment, 2,499 were verified as eligible and consented to participate. Of this group, 1,000 were randomly assigned to the SOURCE intervention condition, and 1,499 were assigned to the control group. A subsample of 150 students initially assigned to the control condition were randomly assigned to a waiting list to ensure that all 1,000 program slots would be filled with eligible recruited students. The remaining 1,349 students served as the control group. The study sample was approximately 70 percent female. The ethnicity of the sample was Latino/a (62.0 percent), black (12.8 percent), Asian or Pacific Islander (12.4 percent), and white (10.0 percent). The primary student languages were English (47.2 percent), Spanish (45.3 percent), and other (7.5 percent).
Data sources included 1) demographic and educational aspiration information collected from students at baseline; 2) administrative program data from SOURCE; 3) LAUSD administrative data on high school completion, GPA, and SAT outcomes; 4) a control group follow-up survey conducted 1 year after expected graduation from high school; 5) a follow-up survey administered to the full sample 1 year after expected high school graduation; and 6) 3 years of college data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), with beginning data collected 25 months after random assignment. Qualitative and quantitative implementation data was also collected via information interviews with program staff.
Outcome data on college attendance and persistence was collected during the students’ third year following high school graduation (approximately 36 months following program participation), which corresponded to October of the students’ expected junior year of college. NSC data was used to assess whether students were enrolled in any college, at California State University (CSU) and/or University of California (UC), any 2-year college, or any 4-year college. NSC data was also used to determine (during the 26 months following the month of expected high school graduation) the number of months students had been enrolled in any college, CSU and/or UC, any 2-year college, or any 4-year college. Student transfers from a 2-year to a 4-year college were also obtained from NSC data. At the time of expected graduation from high school, administrative data from LAUSD was obtained for SAT completions, SAT scores, and graduation outcomes (whether students had graduated, GPA at graduation, percentage with GPA of 3.0 or higher, and eligibility to attend CSU). In the year following expected high school graduation, participants reported whether they had applied to college, and NSC data was used to assess enrollment in any college, 2-year college, 4-year college, and at UC or CSU.
Effects of the program on outcomes were evaluated using regression analyses with imputation for missing data. Analyses controlled for the following baseline covariates: student reports of their age and race/ethnicity, likelihood of attending college, having a sibling in college, parent college graduation status, and whether Spanish was the student’s primary language. Differences at baseline on these covariates between the intervention and control groups were not statistically significant.
The cost was approximately $1,000 per student to provide and administer the SOURCE program (Bos et al. 2012).
Bos and colleagues (2012) reported that the advisors spent a significant proportion of time establishing and maintaining contact with their assigned students, tracking student progress, and completing the program-based reporting of student progress. Due to these logistical challenges, advisors spent relatively little time in direct face-to-face contact with their assigned students (relying instead on phone and text contacts), which resulted in a relatively modest level of program intensity.
Bos and colleagues (2012) also found that students in the SOURCE program were significantly more likely to have completed the SAT, but did not differ from students in the control condition on SAT scores or any of the high school graduation outcomes (graduation, GPA, or CSU eligibility). At 18 months following program participation, a greater percentage of students in the SOURCE program reported having applied to college, compared with students in the control group; however, the percentage enrolling in college did not differ between the two groups. In subgroup analyses for outcomes assessed 3 years following high school graduation, greater rates of enrollment in a 4-year college and more months of attendance at a 4-year college were found for students in the SOURCE program (compared with controls) among those whose primary language was Spanish and among those whose parents did not attend college. No differences were found on these outcomes within the subgroups of students whose primary language was not Spanish and whose parents attended college.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Bos, Johannes, Jacqueline Berman, Thomas Kane, and Fannie Tseng. 2012. The Impacts of SOURCE: A Program to Support College Enrollment through Near-Peer, Low-Cost Student Advising
. Washington, D.C.: American Institutes for Research.
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Avery, Christopher, and Thomas J. Kane. 2004. “Student Perceptions of College Opportunities. The Boston COACH Program”. In Caroline M. Hoxby (ed.). College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It
). Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 355–94.