A Tool for Increasing Application and Retention Rates for At-Risk Students

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 18 colleges, universities, and organizations that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

2015 was the second year of the First in the World grants. You can read our interviews with the 24 institutions that received 2014 grants here.

by Lisa Cook and Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

Is college choice always an informed choice? Often, first-generation and low-income students enroll at a college or university that someone in their family knows about, or simply enroll at the institution closest to home, regardless of whether that student and that institution are a good fit. First generation and low-income students may find themselves overwhelmed with promotional materials from several colleges but lack the knowledge to determine which institution will best suit their skill sets and goals. And often they can't rely on the prior experience of other family members to help them make the best choice.

Yet there is research to indicate that finding the right college -- a good fit in terms of a student's academic profile (GPA and desired major) and personal preferences as to location, extra-curricular activities, and school size -- may improve persistence and graduation rates. Unfortunately, proven tools for connecting students with the right fit are lacking.

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