MDRC has evaluated a variety of programs across the country. These include financial aid programs like performance-based scholarships, as well as learning communities, enhanced student services like additional advising and student success seminars, instructional reforms, behavioral interventions, and comprehensive programs that combine multiple strategies.

When we look across these studies, we find that short-term programs that last for one or two semesters generally produce modest, short-term results. When several of these programs are combined into an integrated strategy, though, and when students experience them semester after semester, the total effect can be dramatic.

The most effective program we’ve studied is the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, known as ASAP, a three-year community college program.

ASAP integrates multiple strategies. It requires students to enroll full time and it supports them with tuition waivers, textbook vouchers, and free MetroCards for unlimited use on public transportation. ASAP also provides comprehensive support services such as frequent, proactive advising; career development; and tutoring. ASAP is both an opportunity and an obligation for students. In order to receive the MetroCards and other benefits, students must meet with their advisors twice a month and satisfy other program requirements. MDRC’s evaluation — based on a sample of students who were all identified as needing remedial education — found that ASAP nearly doubled CUNY’s three-year graduation rate, increasing it from 22 percent to 40 percent.

Read the full article on postsecondary education interventions by Alexander Mayer at MDRC