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Study: Student Coaching Increases Retention, Graduation Rates

First Posted: 03/11/11 08:29 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:35 PM ET

Stanford Coaching Study

According to a recently released Stanford study, student coaching -- a form of counseling that helps struggling students balance out of school responsibilities with coursework -- can help increase retention and graduation rates.

The report's (PDF) authors, Stanford associate professor Eric Bettinger and PhD student Rachel Baker, looked at the performance of 13,555 students at 8 different postsecondary institutions in academic years 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 and concluded that the 8,049 who had received coaching services were more likely to stay in school and graduate than their counterparts.

Using data provided by InsideTrack, researchers were able to determine the effect that coaching had on students' college persistence rates. They found that that after six months of one-on-one coaching, coached students were 10 percent more likely to remain enrolled than those who were not coached.

After a year of coaching, students were 12 percent more likely to remain in school, and 18 months from when coaching started -- six months after termination of the program -- students who had received help were still 15 percent more likely to persist in their studies than non-participants.

The study further found that coached students were 13 percent more likely to graduate from college.

In a press release, Bettinger said that "Coaching not only works, but it appears to be one of the more cost effective ways to produce better retention and graduation rates." He explained that two semesters worth of coaching -- which costs around $1,000 -- increase retention rates by 5 percent, while a $1,000 increase in financial aid yields a three percent jump.

And Bettinger told the Chronicle of Higher Education that coaching may serve as a means to keep male students in college. "If we look in broad literature, we struggle to find a way to help males stay enrolled and engaged in school," he said. "Active outreach towards male students, happening on a one-one basis, in the privacy of their e-mail account or cellphone, was really effective for these kids in this study."

Were you coached in college? Share your story in the comments section below.

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Filed by Danielle Wiener-Bronner  |