Can we increase access to postsecondary education for students of color, students experiencing poverty, and first-generation college students?
While postsecondary education is more accessible today than at any other point in the last 50 years, access remains a significant issue for students of color, students experiencing poverty, and first-generation college students. Research has found that most common reasons students did not enroll in two- and four-year colleges were lack of clarity about the steps needed to enroll in college—including completing applications, applying for financial aid, and completing required standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. Providing high school students—especially those situated furthest from opportunity—with timely advising about postsecondary pathways is a promising area for intervention.
Yet, with high demand for school counselors and school budgets always in flux, access to quality college advising support is limited. School counselors and advisors, who are often tasked with guiding students through college admissions processes, manage an average case load of 424 students for each school counselor, according to the American School Counselor Association. Then, the pandemic further limited counselors’ ability to reach students and provide personalized support.
With new challenges, though, come innovative solutions. Many college access organizations look to artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to help meet the demand for quality counseling to make plans for life after high school. AI can support counselors by automating routine tasks such as appointment scheduling and sending ongoing reminders and information. This allows school counselors and advisors more time to do the important tasks that only they can do to support students. Questions remain about how to best integrate these technologies into post-secondary supports so that counselors can serve students in greater depth and reach students who have not been supported before.
The Hybrid Advising Co-Op will bring together a small number of college advising organizations who will form teams with local schools, students and caregivers. Together, we will learn faster how to leverage this technology to increase the percent of 12th grade high school students who matriculate in post-secondary options that provide credentials that will lead to a livable wage.
Shift will facilitate the Hybrid Advising Co-op (to be re-named by the community), bringing together several college access organizations to share data and test changes focused on a set of drivers to accomplish the shared, ambitious goal:
- Trusted, reliable sources providing relevant, accurate and timely information
- Ease of navigating post-secondary pathways milestones and decision-making processes
- Support for the entire range of student needs and barriers
- Coordinating information and support across providers
Working toward these goals, the co-op will produce shared learning and resources to benefit the broader field—consolidated knowledge on advising models and tested best practices, insights on how to scale hybrid advising with integrity and quality, and improvements to the functionality of college access organizations’ AI chatbots. Collaboration will be structured to include peer-to-peer learning, relevant subject matter expertise, and continuous improvement skill building. Living in the spirit of co-production, students and caregivers will partner directly throughout the Co-Op to improve post-secondary supports provided to high school students.
This work was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The following organizations are participating in the Hybrid Advising Co-op: