The study was conducted in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Outreach counseling was implemented in the summer of 2012 and was based in Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) high schools and the University of New Mexico (UNM). Findings are reported separately for each setting.
Across the full sample (n=1,602), 40.8% of students were male, 50.1% of students were Hispanic, 2.1% of students were Black, 84.8% of students were White, 4.6% of students were Asian, 28.8% of students were eligible for free or reduced price lunch, and 1.4% of students were English learners. The average high school GPA for the full sample was 3.26.
The intervention was designed to support recent high school graduates, who were accepted to college, follow-through on their college plans. The researchers hired 21 school counselors, placing 8 at UNM and 13 at APS high schools where the students graduated. Counselors reached out to students via phone, email, and text message to help students complete summer tasks related to enrolling in college (e.g., finalizing financial aid, evaluating loan options, registering for orientation, and registering for academic placement tests). Supports were provided in person and over the phone and coaching contacts were documented in an online log. Overall, counselors had caseloads between 60 and 100 students, and worked 10-20 hours per week for 5-6 weeks.
Students in the comparison group did not get outreach support from an intervention-trained counselor. These students reflect a 'business as usual' condition, and less than 1% of the comparison group met with a counselor.
Support for implementation
Prior to the start of the intervention, counselors participating in the study received training support from the study research staff which covered how to review financial letters and tuition bills and access to complete the necessary paperwork. College-based counselors also had a day-long training, on-campus orientation covering university-specific details on required summer tasks for students; the university also provided a staff liaison to answer questions from the college-based counselors.