Coached Through College: Professional Motivators Decrease Dropout Rates

Career College Central summary:

  • More than 2,700 volunteer coaches in 26 Tennessee counties mentor students in a privately funded, “it-takes-a-village”-style community approach aimed at guiding more high school graduates toward college and helping them earn degrees.
  • tnAchieves, which also offers scholarships as a last resort, is among a small but growing number of similar programs underwritten by private donations, chambers of commerce, foundations, the federal government, and a handful of colleges and universities where the word “coach” no longer only refers only to someone who’s in charge of the football team.
  • The results, according to studies conducted by researchers at Stanford and elsewhere, are encouraging. Coaching seems to lower college dropout rates and raise the proportion of students who graduate.
  • Students who were coached by phone, email, and text messages were 15 percent more likely to stay in school, the Stanford research found. Thirty-one percent earned some sort of degree within four years, a graduation rate four percentage points higher than that of their classmates who were not coached.
  • At Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., a coaching program paid for with money from the U.S. Department of Labor has increased the proportion of students who stay from the fall to the spring to 87 percent, about eight percentage points higher than classmates who weren’t coached.

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