College Success Starts Here

Dec 2, 2015 in Blog

Without a doubt, college is hard. In the United States, it presents a myriad of challenges beyond acing your chosen course of study. These obstacles, which are often small and unintended – such as decisions about financing tuition, which courses to take in the first place, or tradeoffs on how to spend time or money in school – can make it difficult (and often impossible) for students to earn a degree.

To tackle this, we’ve spent the past 18 months working with colleges and universities across the country to apply insights from behavioral science to campus programs, various systems and student communications with the aim of removing some of the hidden challenges students face on their journey to graduation day, from applying to college, attending school, completing coursework, to ultimately repaying loans. Based on these insights, we designed new solutions and rigorously tested them for impact.

Today, our initial successes from this work are available in Nudging for Success: A Preview. Highlighting some of the innovative ways that behavioral science can increase access to financial aid, improve academic behaviors and boost retention, the preview is an introduction to our portfolio of low-cost, easily scalable behavioral solutions for colleges and universities. Our complete look at applying behavioral science to improve the higher education experience, encompassing 15 studies, will be available in Spring 2016.

The landmark work highlighted in our preview was made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. We’re thrilled to demonstrate the many ways behavioral insights can be successfully applied to higher education throughout a student’s entire experience. In addition to reading our introductory preview of Nudging for Success, you can sign up here to receive the full report, with implications for potentially millions of students, in Spring 2016.

Tweet @ideas42 to join the conversation, or email ethan@ideas42.org to learn more about our postsecondary work.

Update: In the summer of 2016, ideas42 released the full report on our work using behavioral science for college completion called Nudging for Success: Using Behavioral Science to Improve the Postsecondary Student Journey.