O’Donoghue is a data manager in MDRC’s Young Adults and Postsecondary Education policy area. Her projects currently include three randomized controlled trials: the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) Ohio Demonstration, which seeks to determine whether City University of New York (CUNY) ASAP can be successfully replicated in Ohio; Detroit Promise Path, which adds student support services to the Detroit Promise scholarship program; and Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS), which provides technology tools and integrated data to college students and advisers. Across these projects, she supports colleges in using quantitative data to provide the services students need to be successful. Before joining MDRC in 2016, O’Donoghue worked in mental health and homelessness services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
A Study of College Transition Text-Based MessagingMay, 2023
Many underserved groups face barriers to college enrollment. This study evaluated a program that supplemented federal supports for these groups through text messages about securing financial aid, completing college enrollment, and navigating other barriers. The study found that adding the messaging program did not increase rates of college enrollment.Brief
Interim Impacts of the Texas Transfer Grant Pilot Program on Student TransferMarch, 2023
Only a fraction of community college students who plan to transfer to a four-year institution actually do. The Texas Transfer Grant Pilot Program was launched to improve transfer rates and bachelor’s degree attainment. It increased the proportion of students who enrolled in a Texas public four-year institution.Toolkit
Putting Evidence to Work for Student SupportMarch, 2023
The Tools for Postsecondary Schools interactive toolkit is designed to help staff members and administrators at two- and four-year colleges use evidence-based practices to support students. It draws on over 20 years of MDRC research and technical assistance and can help practitioners at any stage in the program-development process.Brief
Promising Interim Findings from the Viking ROADS Randomized Controlled TrialNovember, 2022
In community colleges nationwide, underrepresented students and students from families with low incomes face many barriers to academic success. In 2018, Westchester Community College in New York State launched Viking ROADS to help students overcome those obstacles. Despite the pandemic, the program had positive effects on enrollment and credits earned.Report
Three Years of the Detroit Promise Path Program for Community College StudentsMarch, 2021
This program combines a tuition-free scholarship with additional forms of support, such as a campus coach and personalized communications, to keep students on track to graduate. A three-year evaluation shows that the program helped students stay enrolled in school and earn more credits, but had no impact on degrees earned.Issue Focus
Adapting the Evidence for 2020 and BeyondJune, 2020
MDRC has studied a number of strategies for helping students stay in college and succeed there. Lessons from some of these models may be readily adapted to support students and close equity gaps now and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This Issue Focus offers three lessons taken from MDRC’s evaluations.Report
Interim Findings from the Detroit Promise Path EvaluationApril, 2019
The Detroit Promise allows the city’s high school graduates to attend local colleges tuition-free. To that scholarship the Detroit Promise Path adds campus coaches, monthly financial support, enhanced summer engagement, and messages informed by behavioral science. Interim findings about persistence in school, full-time enrollment, and credit accumulation are all positive.
While more than three-fourths of community college students plan to transfer to a four-year institution to obtain a bachelor’s degree, only about one-third of them actually do transfer. And students from low-income backgrounds were only half as likely as their peers from higher-income backgrounds to have transferred to a four-year institution after six years.
Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, Congress created the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) as the first-ever federal emergency aid program in higher education.
MDRC, in collaboration with the National Association of Student...
College Promise is the latest college-access movement in the United States. With more than 300 programs across the nation, College Promise is pushing forward national conversations about college access and affordability. College Promise programs typically cover college tuition and fees for students in a particular geographic area. Some programs help students from a...Alexander Mayer, Melissa Boynton, Michelle Ware, John Diamond, Rebekah O'Donoghue, Edith Yang, Dorota Biedzio Rizik, Erika B. Lewy
Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) is an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently made its second large investment in 26 colleges and universities engaged in technology-mediated advising reform.
The iPASS initiative provides technology tools and data about students’ academic...Colleen Sommo, Michael J. Weiss, Michelle Ware, Melissa Boynton, Michelle S. Manno, Alyssa Ratledge, Rebekah O'Donoghue, Colin Hill
While the U.S. has made strides in increasing college access among low-income students, college completion has remained low. Graduation rates are particularly stagnant among our nation’s community colleges, which enroll a large number of low-income and nontraditional college students. For example, only 20 percent of full-time, first-time...Colleen Sommo, Susan Scrivener, Michael J. Weiss, Michelle Ware, Michelle S. Manno, Alyssa Ratledge, Rebekah O'Donoghue, Austin Slaughter, Gilda Azurdia
National attention is focused on increasing graduation rates at community colleges. Graduation rates are particularly low for students who come to campus underprepared for college-level work. Across the nation, between 60 and 70 percent of entering freshmen in community colleges enroll in developmental (or remedial) math, reading, or writing courses. Data show that...