WWC review of this study

The bottom line on college counseling

Barr, A., & Castleman, B. (2017). Boston, MA: Bottom Line. Retrieved from https://www.bottomline.org/sites/default/files/The%20Bottom%20Line%20on%20College%20Counseling%20RCTPaper_10_2017.pdf

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    2,422
     Students
    , grades
    11-PS

Reviewed: March 2021

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
College enrollment outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Enrolled in a 4-year college

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
2,422 students

80.60

70.30

Yes

 
 
13
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrolled in any college

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
2,422 students

89.70

82.70

Yes

 
 
14

Enrolled in a 2-year college

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
2,422 students

9.30

12.70

Yes

-8
 
 
Progressing in college outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Continuously enrolled for the three semesters following high school

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Cohort 1;
1,429 students

80.40

70.50

Yes

 
 
13
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Enrolled in a 4-year college for a second year

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Cohort 1;
1,429 students

78.00

63.00

Yes

 
 
17

Enrolled in any college for a second year

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Cohort 1;
1,429 students

87.00

79.00

Yes

 
 
14

Enrolled in a 2-year college for a second year

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Cohort 1;
1,429 students

9.70

15.90

Yes

-13
 
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 70%
    Male: 30%
  • Race
    Asian
    24%
    Black
    32%
    Not specified
    44%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    32%
    Not Hispanic
    68%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts, New York

Setting

The study was conducted with two cohorts of high school students, representing the graduating classes of 2015 and 2016 in Boston, New York City, and Worcester, Massachusetts. Students who received the intervention were encouraged to attend a Bottom Line target college where they could continue the program; approximately 50 percent of students in the intervention group did so. There are about 30 of these target colleges, and they were described in the study as ones that offered an optimal combination of quality and affordability. These institutions are located in the same geographic region as the study high schools; examples include Boston University, the State University of New York at Albany, and target campuses in the City University of New York and University of Massachusetts systems.

Study sample

The high school students in the sample were from families that earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Program eligibility required that students have earned at least a 2.5 high school GPA. About 81 percent of students in the sample were first-generation college students; approximately 70 percent were female and 32 percent were Hispanic. Thirty-two percent of students in the sample were Black, 24 percent were Asian, and race was not specified for 44 percent of students.

Intervention Group

The Bottom Line college advising model provides two programs: Bottom Line Access for high school juniors and seniors and Bottom Line Success for students who attend a target college. The study followed students who were randomly assigned to the Bottom Line Access program as they transitioned to the Bottom Line Success program. Advisors interacted with students during high school, on average, 13 times during a 15-month period in which the intervention was delivered, starting with May of the student's junior year of high school through August of the year of graduation. Most meetings involved working on college applications or financial aid. Overall, this entailed 10-15 hours of contact time between advisors and students. After high school graduation, students who chose to attend a Bottom Line target college were matched to a new advisor at their college to continue to receive advising through Bottom Line Success.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group had access to existing college advising support services. The study surveyed Cohort 1 students and found that almost all respondents in both groups applied for college (100 percent of intervention students and 99 percent of comparison students) and financial aid (99 percent of intervention students and 97 percent of comparison students). The authors did not administer the survey to students in Cohort 2.

Support for implementation

Bottom Line is a 501(c)(3) privately funded organization that serves low-income and first-generation students. The organization currently serves students in Boston, New York City, Chicago, and Worcester, Massachusetts. https://www.bottomline.org/what-we-do. Financial support for the study was provided by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Castleman, B., & Goodman, J. (2015). Intensive college counseling and the college enrollment choices of low-income students. [Abstract]. SREE 2015 Spring Conference.

  • Barr, A., & Castleman, B. (2016). Advising students to and through college: Experimental evidence from the Bottom Line advising program. Boston, MA: Bottom Line. Retrieved from https://www.bottomline.org/sites/default/files/Advising%20Students%20To%20and%20Through%20College_web.pdf

Reviewed: September 2019

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Access and enrollment outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Enrolled in four-year institution

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
2,422 students

80.60

70.30

Yes

 
 
13
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

College enrollment

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
2,422 students

89.70

82.70

Yes

 
 
14

Enrollment in any 2-year college (%)

Bottom Line vs. Business as usual

0 Months

Full sample;
2,422 students

9.30

12.70

Yes

-8
 
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 70%
    Male: 30%
  • Race
    Asian
    23%
    Black
    33%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    32%
    Not Hispanic
    68%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Massachusetts, New York

Setting

The study was conducted with two cohorts of high school students (graduating classes of 2015 and 2016) in Boston and Worcester, MA, and New York City. Students who received the intervention were encouraged to attend a Bottom Line Counseling target college where they could continue the program; approximately 50 percent of students in the intervention group did so. There are about 30 of these target colleges and they are described in the study as ones that offer an optimal combination of quality and affordability. These institutions operate within the geographic region; examples include Boston University, the State University of New York at Albany, and target campuses in the City University of New York and University of Massachusetts systems.

Study sample

The high school students in the sample are from families that make less than 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Program eligibility required that students have earned at least a 2.5 GPA. In terms of demographic information, about 80% of the sample were first generation college students; approximately 70% were female, 33% Black, 32% Hispanic, and 23% were Asian.

Intervention Group

The Bottom Line (BL) college advising model provides two programs: BL Access for high school juniors and seniors, and BL Success, which provides advising for students who attend a target college. The study followed students randomly assigned to the BL Access program as they transitioned to the BL Success program. Advising is offered through counselors, who interacted with students during high school an average of 13 times during the 15-month period in which the intervention was delivered. The BL Access services started in May of high school junior year and proceed through August after graduation. Most meetings involved working on college applications or financial aid. After high school graduation, students who chose to attend a BL-target institution were matched to a new advisor at their college. They continued to receive advising through BL Success. Overall, BL advising entailed 10-15 hours of contact time between counselors and students.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group had access to existing college advising support services. The study surveyed Cohort 1 comparison students and found that most respondents applied for college and financial aid.

Support for implementation

Bottom Line is a 501(c)(3) privately funded organization that serves low income and first-generation students. Advisors spend their first year learning the organization's curriculum, building relationships with students and staff, serving their caseload, and mastering advisor competencies. Returning advisors take on additional responsibilities. The organization currently serves students in Boston, New York City, Worcester, MA and Chicago, IL. For more information, see Bottom Line's website: https://www.bottomline.org/what-we-do

 

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