Guest Post: Changing College Choices with Personalized Information at Scale

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Guest Post: Changing College Choices with Personalized Information at Scale

By Christine Mulhern, Harvard University

Choosing whether and where to apply to college is a complex and important choice which many students and families struggle to navigate. Naviance is an important tool for helping students, families and school counselors with these choices. Over 40 percent of US high school students use Naviance, but little research examines how it impacts their college choices. Given its widespread use and the importance of students’ college choices, I partnered with one medium-sized school district to study how it affects where students apply to and attend college.

This study examines how the personalized information conveyed in Naviance’s scattergrams impacts students’ college choices. Providing students access to a college’s scattergram increases applications and attendance at that college, and students are most likely to apply to a college when the admissions data suggest they are likely to be admitted.

The full paper can be found here: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/mulhern/files/naviance_mulhern_april2019.pdf.

The key findings include:

  • Access to a college’s scattergram increases applications and attendance at that college, especially for students with a high probability of admission. This means that students are nudged towards the colleges popular among previous students from their high school.
  • Minority and low-income students are most responsive to the availability of a college’s scattergram. Access to scattergrams for less selective in-state public colleges increases four-year college enrollment rates for these students. 
  • Students change their applications based on what Naviance signals about their probability of admission. Students prefer to apply to colleges where they are most similar to previous admits.
  • Students respond strongly to the average admitted student’s GPA. I find a discontinuity in application rates for students just above and below the average admit’s GPA despite no discontinuity in a student’s probability of admission at this point. Students appear to use these averages as heuristics to simplify their college choices.

These findings indicate that the admissions information conveyed in Naviance can have large impacts on where students apply to and attend college. The information increases college attendance for some students, but the admissions data deters others from applying to highly selective colleges. The extent to which students respond to scattergrams varies across counselors, so counselors can play an important role in helping students understand the information in Naviance. More broadly, this research suggests that technologies, such as Naviance, can have large impacts on students’ college choices, and the popularity of Naviance means it has potential to influence national college enrollment patterns.

Learn more about the research paper in the article written by EdSurge, "Naviance Wields Much ‘Power and Influence’ in College Admissions, Harvard Researcher Finds."

Guest Post: Budgeting for College, Career and Life Readiness

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Guest Post: Budgeting for College, Career and Life Readiness

By Kim Oppelt, Naviance by Hobsons

Schools and districts need to prepare students for their future while also balancing their bottom line. The College, Career & Life Readiness Budget Trends 2018 survey brief dug deeper into the ways K-12 institutions are funding college, career and life readiness initiatives as well as the metrics they are relying upon to measure effectiveness.

Read About Why:

  • 94% of school and district participants state that they include college, career and life-ready components in their strategic plan.
  • Two-thirds of schools and districts stated that technology and staffing with more school counselors are major components of their school and district CCLR budgets.
  • The top three priorities for CCLR funding are supporting access for underrepresented students, scaling efforts to reach all students, and CTE opportunities.
  • Out of 286 respondents, over half reported using federal and state grants to fund CCLR initiatives.
  • 67% of districts reported using Title I to fund CCLR initiatives, and 34% reported using Perkins funding.

Administrators can use the report to identify funding sources for college, career and life readiness initiatives. Administrators can also compare current spending to national averages to help inform decision-making.

Access the report to see how schools and districts can use a variety of federal and state grants available for CCLR programming in CTE, SEL, 21st century skills, technology, and assisting underrepresented students by diversifying funding sources.

Read the report for the full details.