MDRC in the News

Personalized Outreach to Students Boosts Summer Enrollment

Inside Higher Ed


ORLANDO, Fla. – Some Ohio community colleges have found that adding a personal touch to email messages and other correspondence sent to students has helped increase attendance in summer courses.

The colleges are part of an ongoing study project to encourage students to take summer courses in the hopes of helping them complete college. The Encouraging Additional Summer Enrollment, or EASE, study is being conducted by MDRC, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social policy research organization, which released its findings this month and presented them Monday during the American Association of Community Colleges’ 99th annual convention in Orlando.

The study, which is being conducted at 10 community colleges in Ohio, has so far found that personalizing the wording in emails and letters to students about their financial aid had positive results. Those students were more likely to enroll in summer courses. And more students enrolled in summer courses after they received the personalized emails and letters from their colleges along with tuition assistance to cover the gap between their existing financial aid and the cost of summer attendance…..

…..“We know from previous MDRC research that students who enroll in summer courses are more likely to persist,” said Camielle Headlam, the EASE project manager and a research analyst at MDRC. “One barrier we found is that financial aid for summer courses is complex”…..

…..According to MDRC research, 80 percent of the community college students had leftover aid from their federal Pell Grants that could have been used to pay for summer courses. But only 20 percent of community college students enroll in summer classes. Students may have misinterpreted or overlooked information about their summer aid, or they may have thought they used all their available aid, according to an MDRC report…..

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