• Beth & Tim Manners

How Campus Visits Alter Student Goals

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Chalkbeat: “When researchers asked hundreds of eighth-graders living near Arkansas’s flagship university whether they’d ever visited a college campus, they were surprised by the response. Only about half said they had. The team of researchers set out to see whether getting more of those middle-schoolers onto a college quad could affect their decision making about higher education … Spending time on college campuses, the researchers found, slightly improved students’ chances of speaking with school staff about college. It also seemed to increase the rate at which the students took honors or advanced courses in ninth grade. It didn’t increase the rate that students planned to attend a four-year college, though. The results amount to promising initial evidence that college visits — a common but rarely studied tactic — are helpful for students, while also highlighting the limits of such an approach to fundamentally change students’ aspirations.”

“The study, which has not yet been formally peer reviewed, focuses on 15 middle schools and several hundred Arkansas eighth-graders who volunteered to participate last school year. Eighth grade, the researchers figured, could be a sweet spot for altering students’ paths … Some of the students were randomly assigned to take three trips to the University of Arkansas over the course of eighth grade; the others got only a packet of information about college opportunities … Students who went on the tours went on to correctly answer more factual questions about college and to report having more conversations with school staff about college, though the increases were small in both cases. Those students were also about 6 percentage points more likely to enroll in advanced math, science, or social studies classes in ninth grade.”

“There’s not yet data on how the Arkansas students perform in high school or whether they actually enter and complete college. But the researchers are continuing to study the students, as well as another group of eighth-graders visiting the campus this year.”

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