+

Education strategies to improve post-secondary outcomes

Education strategies can increase awareness of college and training programs, help students quickly complete academic prerequisites, and provide wraparound personal supports for students.

Individuals who complete post-secondary education or training are more likely to attain high quality employment, experience good health outcomes, maintain stable homes, and less likely to be incarcerated.

How does post-secondary education affect economic mobility?

A post-secondary degree or credential is the surest way to achieve upward economic mobility. 1

Without a college degree, a child born to a low-income family has a 45 percent chance of remaining in the bottom quintile of earnings as an adult. With a college degree, a child born to a family in the lowest quintile of income has an 84 percent chance of moving into a higher quintile as an adult.

Obtaining a post-secondary degree significantly increases an individual’s lifetime earnings. 2 3

In 2016, individuals with a high school degree aged 25-34 earned an average approximately $32,000 per year. Individuals with an associate’s degree earned an average of over $38,000, those with a bachelor’s degree or higher earned an average of nearly $60,000.

Parents with a post-secondary degree are able to access higher quality employment, which allows them to spend more time with and resources on their children. 4

On average, mothers with a college degree spend 4.5 more hours every week engaging with their children than mothers with only a high school diploma or less.

The return on investment in earning an associate’s, professional, or bachelor’s degree exceeds 15 percent. 5

Categories of successful interventions

  • College access programs: Programs that help individuals apply to and enroll in colleges. Often include awareness building, college readiness training, application assistance, and financial aid completion services
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support: College-based programs that provide mentoring, counseling, social support, or other services to improve student well-being
  • Post-secondary tuition support and incentives: Financial incentives for strong academic performance in high school and college, often in the form of tuition assistance

Evidence-based interventions

Intervention Type Category Evidence Level
Better Futures Program
  • College access programs
Proven (highest tier)
Bottom Line Program
  • College access programs
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
Strong (second-highest tier)
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative Program
  • Accelerated remedial education programs
Strong (second-highest tier)
College access programs Strategy
  • College access programs
Proven (highest tier)
Detroit Promise Path Program
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
  • Post-secondary tuition support and incentives
Strong (second-highest tier)
Dual enrollment programs Strategy
  • Dual enrollment/early college programs
Proven (highest tier)
Early college high school model Strategy
  • Dual enrollment/early college programs
Proven (highest tier)
Facilitating Long-term Improvements in Graduation and Higher Education for Tomorrow (FLIGHT) Program
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
  • Post-secondary tuition support and incentives
Strong (second-highest tier)
First Year Experience Courses Strategy
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
Strong (second-highest tier)
H&R Block College Financial Aid Application Assistance Program
  • Financial aid completion support
Proven (highest tier)
Health career recruitment Strategy
  • Career advising programs
  • College access programs
  • Mentoring, counseling, and case management
Proven (highest tier)
InsideTrack Coaching Program
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Learning Accounts Program
  • Post-secondary tuition support and incentives
Proven (highest tier)
Open Learning Initiatives Strategy
  • Post-secondary academic support
Opening Doors Strategy
  • Post-secondary academic support
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
  • Post-secondary tuition support and incentives
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Performance-based scholarships Strategy
  • Post-secondary tuition support and incentives
Promising (Third-highest tier)
SAT/ACT test prep and coaching programs Strategy
  • SAT/ACT preparation programs
Proven (highest tier)
Social belonging programs Strategy
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Summer bridge programs Strategy
  • Post-secondary academic support
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
Strong (second-highest tier)
Summer counseling Strategy
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
Strong (second-highest tier)
Text message-based financial aid nudges Strategy
  • Financial aid completion support
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement Program
  • Accelerated remedial education programs
  • College access programs
  • Post-secondary student guidance and support
  • SAT/ACT preparation programs
Promising (Third-highest tier)
Footnotes
  1. Greenstone, Looney, Patashnik, and Yu, Thirteen Economic Facts about Social Mobility and the Role of Education, Brookings 2013
    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/THP_13EconFacts_FINAL.pdf
  2. Greenstone, Looney, Patashnik, and Yu, Ibid.
    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/THP_13EconFacts_FINAL.pdf
  3. de Brey, Musu, et al, "Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018," US Department of Education 2019
    https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019038.pdf
  4. Guryan, Hearst, and Kearney, Parental Education and Parental Time With Children, NBER 2008
    https://www.nber.org/papers/w13993
  5. Greenstone, Looney, Patashnik, and Yu, Ibid.
    https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/THP_13EconFacts_FINAL.pdf