Imagine the field of college completion having a clearer understanding of the different pathways students take to get to and through college – not defined by their race or income, but by the obstacles they face and the resources they have (or don’t have) to overcome them. We believe this knowledge could be transformative – allowing individual organizations to better target and serve students, and enabling deeper collaboration between organizations.
Over the past decade, the education reform movement’s energy and resources have fostered a proliferation of actors with a common commitment to fixing the educational pipeline for low-income students, particularly those of color. However, current data suggest there is still a steep hill to climb. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the bachelor degree completion rate for Whites aged 25-29 years old is 37%, which is almost double the college completion rate for African-Americans (19%). Students whose family incomes are at the bottom quartile are ten times less likely to earn a Bachelor’s Degree by 24 than students from the top income quartile. We believe a host of obstacles, including financial constraints, insufficient academic and social preparedness for college, and an inability to navigate college systems, account for these alarming statistics.
In addition, much policy and practice is based on an outdated definition of a “student,” imagined as a young man or woman who graduates high school at 18, proceeds directly to college, and graduates in four years. However, this archetype is a very small piece of a highly dynamic and complex student ecosystem. According to College Complete America, only 25% of students attend school full-time at residential colleges, whereas 75% of college students are college commuters, often juggling families, jobs and school. Many education funders and actors are driving change primarily from the lens of the “traditional student”, and are using overly simplistic descriptors of students (e.g. minority vs. majority, full-time vs. part-time). We believe much work is yet to be done to investigate and articulate the diverse paths students take to obtain their degrees, and the challenges they face along the way.
Monitor has developed an extensive set of tools, called GrowthPath®, that generate deep insights into consumer beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors. We believe that applying these tools to better understand students, the oft-overlooked “consumers” of education, will help the field create a richer understanding of the different types of students who are pursuing a college degree, and that this understanding can be used to identify and remove barriers to college completion.
Large corporations today use highly advanced tools in order to better serve their customers in increasingly nuanced ways – finding better ways to market and deliver products at exactly the right time, with exactly the right pitch, at exactly the right price. Our goal is to bring that same level of sophistication to the college access and completion space to help education organizations better serve their customer…the student.
We believe the field needs to:
We believe that this work can and should be done to more effectively help students enroll in and successfully complete college, and we believe that we can help. If you are interested in learning more or exploring the topic further, please contact Allan Ludgate (email@example.com / @AllanLudgate), Frances Messano (firstname.lastname@example.org / @FrancesMessano), or Owen Stearns (email@example.com / @OwenStearns).