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Removing barriers to post-secondary education through career development and financial incentive strategies: the Future to Discover pilot project Yves Y. Pelletier Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation 22nd Annual Student Financial Aid Research Network Conference

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slide1

Removing barriers to post-secondary education through career development and financial incentive strategies:

the Future to Discover pilot project

Yves Y. Pelletier

Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation

22nd Annual Student Financial Aid Research Network Conference

Chicago, Illinois, USA June 11, 2005

slide2

Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation:

Mandate and activities

  • The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation was created by the Government of Canada in 1998 with an endowment of $2.5 billion to improve access to post-secondary education over the next ten years.
  • The Foundation distributes roughly $300 million in the form of needs-based bursaries each year throughout Canada. So far, the Foundation has awarded $1.6 billion in the form of 520,000 bursaries to Canadian post-secondary students.
  • The Foundation also offers hundreds of Millennium Excellence awards to youth that have distinguished themselves through community involvement, leadership, innovation and academic success.
  • The Foundation carries out research projects to better understand issues relating to access to post-secondary education.
slide3

Barriers to Post-Secondary Education

  • From its research, the Foundation has identified three barriers to post-secondary education:
    • Lack of knowledge/misinformation regarding the post-secondary study programs available in Canada, often paired with an unclear grasp of the economic and social advantages that such programs can bring.
    • Insufficient scholastic preparation in the form of a poor academic record, which makes the prospect of post-secondary education difficult, if not impossible, to imagine, and which incites many students to automatically eliminate themselves from the running.
    • Inadequate financial resources.
  • As a result of research on access to post-secondary education, the Foundation is funding pilot projects designed to test approaches to overcome these barriers. These pilot projects are taking place in partnership with some Canadian provinces and the evaluation is being carried out by the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation.
slide4

Introducing the Future to Discover pilot project

  • Future to Discover focuses on two of the three barriers to post-secondary education:
    • Lack of knowledge/misinformation regarding post-secondary study programs;
    • Inadequate financial resources.
  • A six-year demonstration project that will follow 4,000 participants starting in grade 10;
  • Thirty high schools from the province of New Brunswick are participating (15 from French-language school sector; 15 from English-language school sector);
  • Two cohorts will be recruited at each site: recruitment of grade 9 students took place in Spring 2004 for cohort 1 and Spring 2005 for cohort 2.
slide5

Future To Discover groups

The 4,000 recruited participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups:

1. Information strategy group (Explore Your Horizons): participants will receive career development interventions in the classroom outside school hours and will have access to a magazine and Web site providing concise information about PSE options;

2. Financial incentives strategy group (Learning Accounts): participants from families with an annual income less than the median in the province have been offered $8,000 in grade 10 to pursue post-secondary studies on the condition they graduate high school and enrol successfully in a recognized post-secondary education program.

3. Information strategy + financial incentives strategy group.

4. Comparison group.

slide6

Overview of the recruitment process: cohort 1

New Brunswick Department of Education and the Foundation established guidelines for recruiting schools: 30 high schools selected

Letter mailed out to 5917 eligible grade 9 students in selected NB schools

Statistics Canada letter to allow opt out of interviews (3151 randomly selected students)

In-home interviews:

Baseline survey with screen

to determine eligibility

2,390 volunteer participants = 76% response rate

1261 participants from families with low income (LI) and low parental PSE

1129 participants from families with high income (HI) and parental PSE

slide7

Assignment of cohort 1 participants

into program or comparison groups

1261 volunteers (LI)

1129 volunteers (HI)

Random Assignment

Random Assignment

Explore Your Horizons only, 255 students

Learning Accounts only, 326 students

Explore Your Horizons only, 296 students

Comparison group with follow-up, 412 students

Learning Accounts + Explore Your Horizons, 324 students

Comparison group with follow-up, 356 students

Comparison group with no-follow-up, 421 students

students educational aspirations
Students’ educational aspirations
  • 99% of students said they expected to graduate high school
  • Level of education aspired varies by sector and by income group
getting information for the future
Getting Information for the Future
  • Activities cited most often:
    • read information about different types of work
    • completed a questionnaire
    • talked to someone working at a job I might like
    • talked to a teacher
  • Two out three LI and HI French sector students had done at least one of the activities listed
  • Three out four LI English sector students
  • Six out of seven HI English sector students
slide13

Planning for Future Education

  • A minority of LI parents had done something specific to ensure their child would have any money for further education
  • 3 most popular financial instruments:
    • -RESP -savings account -investment in bonds
slide14

Explore Your Horizons (information strategy) - timelines

* Parents/guardians attend a 1.5-hour orientation session to the project at the beginning of grade 10

slide15

Explore Your Horizons interventions

  • Career Focusing – Grade 10:
  • Innovative process in career development which allows participants to align job possibilities based on their passions rather than on skills inventory.
  • From listening to a participant’s descriptions of five items, project facilitators trained in this process are able to provide a student with a “focus” statement that allows a more meaningful exploration of career options.
  • Participants are encouraged to broadly explore career opportunities that suit their “focus”; once a long list has been identified, participants apply filters regarding work style preference, academic realities, salaries, etc.
  • Participants will then explore high school courses required for their top three career choices and institutions that offer their selected after-high school programs.
slide16

2) Lasting Gifts – Grade 11:

  • Intervention focuses on parents/guardians as they continue to have the strongest influence on their child’s career choices
  • Lasting Gifts combines parent(s)/guardian(s) with their teens to continue exploring their passions and the benefits of all types of PSE and to examine creatively and widely the world of work in order to build the participant’s preferred future
  • Helps participants engage in the career building process and sets the stage for parents to provide positive messages and to look for strengths in their teens.
  • Have parents become active allies supporting the career choices of their teens.
slide17

3) Career Focusing – Grade 12:

  • Participants will take part in the “focus” process again to determine if their passions have changed over their high school years.
  • Participants will also receive the assistance of facilitators regarding the application process for both post-secondary institutions and/or programs and financial assistance programs (loans and bursaries).
  • This last year of the program is also geared toward preparing participants for the transition to life after high school.
slide18

4) Post-Secondary Ambassador Workshops (all three years):

  • Current post-secondary students will meet with participating students to share information about post-secondary education experiences.
  • Six workshops over the three years:
    • Grade 10: -Introduction to post-secondary education
    • -Making the most of high school
    • Grade 11: -Value of post-secondary education
    • -Exploring your future
    • Grade 12: -Choosing your post-secondary program/ Financing PSE
    • -Life as a post-secondary student
  • Each workshop also allows for an informal, yet structured, small group discussion to answer questions from participants.
slide19

5) Web site

  • To provide targeted and more concise information about post-secondary benefits and opportunities, in greater details and with interesting Web links;
  • To stimulate discussions at home with
  • parents about post-secondary issues;
  • To encourage students to explore
  • post-secondary education programs
  • and institutions/job environments;
  • To provide testimonials of students who
  • are currently in a post-secondary program.
slide20

6) Magazine (direct mail campaign)

  • To provide targeted and more concise information about post-secondary benefits and opportunities;
  • To stimulate discussions at home with parents about post-secondary issues;
  • To encourage students to explore by themselves the various options available to them;
  • To provide testimonials from students who are currently in a post-secondary program;
  • To facilitate sharing of information for students and parents who don’t have a computer with internet connection at home;
  • Two issues sent to participants’ home each year of the three-year project.
slide22

Explore Your Horizons Logic Model

  • Some students are not thinking about life after high school;
  • Some of the students who are thinking about life after high school are basing important decisions on inadequate or inaccurate information;
  • Those who receive a sufficient amount of accurate or better focused information and career development support (and strategies to help structure the information) will understand the information, remember it, value it and use it to guide their behaviour;
  • Their behaviour will change, altering their course choices, school attendance, chances of graduating high school, choices of post-secondary program and financing, including whether to enrol at all in post-secondary education, and whether to continue on and complete their chosen program.
slide23

Learning Accounts intervention

  • The objective of the Learning Accounts strategy is to provide grants to a randomly-selected group of Grade 10 students in New Brunswick only whose family income is less than the provincial median.
  • Learning Accounts differs from other grant programs in that:
    • it is targeted at potential post-secondary students;
    • only students from lower-income families are eligible; and
    • accounts are set up for students, and grant money is deposited into their accounts, starting relatively early in high school.
slide24

Earning and withdrawing money from Learning Accounts

  • After each successive year, participants in this intervention will receive an account statement that shows the accumulated amount in their accounts.
    • $2,000 to those still attending high school at the end of Grade 10;
    • $2,000 to to those still attending high school at the end of Grade 11; and
    • $4,000 to those who successfully complete Grade 12.
  • Students enrolled in a post-secondary program that lasts two years or more may request four equal instalments of $2,000.
  • Students enrolled in post-secondary programs that last a year or less will receive their grant in two equal disbursements of $2,000 during the same year.
slide25

The logic model of Learning Accounts

  • In developing Learning Accounts it was assumed that:
  • Some students are not thinking about life beyond high school;
  • Some of the students who are thinking about life after high school are making important decisions while uncertain about their ability to pay for post-secondary education;
  • Those who receive the chance to open a learning account will understand the rules of Learning Accounts;
  • As a result of at least one Learning Account event - the creation of the account, a deposit into the account, the receipt of an account statement - account holders will increase the extent to which they think about their post-secondary lives, and this increased thinking about the future may have concrete behavioural consequences (course choices, school attendance, whether to continue on with post-secondary studies).
slide26

Signing up for a Learning Account

After being randomly assigned to the Learning Account group, participants needed to sign a participation declaration form and return the self-addressed and stamped envelope to the project office:

Rates of returning participation declaration:

-by the February 15th deadline: 66.2%

-following a follow-up mailing (end of April): 87.4%

-following a call to the home (May): 91.9%

slide27

Short-term results for Explore Your Horizons

  • Attendance at sessions after year 1: 60.1%
  • Impressions from parents:
    • “My son has never taken part in an after school activity. His focus in life is all about work and I wasn’t sure if he would enjoy this Future to Discover program or not because it has similar expectations/structure to school. It happens inside, after school, at the school, etc., and he would rather be outside working on something and being physically active. He has really enjoyed this program.”
    • “With my son coming here, he learned to focus on his strengths rather than his weaknesses and to talk with these people who really know which way to help kids. When I saw this Career Focusing booklet, I realized that the students have been given the opportunity to see what is available. I think it helps them to realize what they are good at and what direction they should take.”
slide28

Impressions from participants:

“I always knew that I would work at music, but now I know that there are a lot of ways to look at it,” male participant

“At first I could only think about three options for occupations, but now I don't know what to pick because there really are so many - it should be fun,” female participant

Impressions from a post-secondary ambassador:

  • “Because of my experience as a PSA this year, I realized I have a true passion for the career development field and have decided to start a Master’s degree in career counselling!!  I had not considered or even thought of this option before. I discovered, through the impact I had on students, how much career counselling meets all of my needs and ambitions.  I loved being able to open the minds of students to all the benefits and the many options of post-secondary education. ”
slide29

The expected impacts of Future to Discover

  • Short-term and intermediate impacts
  • Anticipated short-term and intermediate impacts expected as a result of participation in one of the Millennium Pilot Projects include the following:
    • Increased orientation towards future activities;
    • Increased awareness of post-secondary options;
    • Increased interest in high school and attendance at high school;
    • Lower high school dropout rates;
    • Changes in chosen high school courses;
    • Improved course grades, test scores and overall GPA;
    • Altered expectations about post-secondary education;
    • Change in intentions to pursue post-secondary education;
    • Increased knowledge of post-secondary education options, costs and financing;
    • Increased saving to meet additional costs of post-secondary education.
slide30

The expected impacts of Future to Discover (2)

  • Long-term impacts
  • Two major long-term impacts are of particular interest in the Millennium Pilot Projects:
    • successful enrolment in a post-secondary education program: and
    • successful completion of the first year of a chosen post-secondary education program.
  • However, impacts on long-term outcomes such as persistence into the second and later years of post-secondary programs, completion of programs and certification will not be observed under the current research.
  • Similarly, subsequent labour market participation outcomes are beyond the scope of the current work.
slide31

Contact Information:

Yves Y. Pelletier

Pilot Project Manager

(514) 282-2140

ypelletier@bm-ms.org

Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation

1000 Sherbrooke Street West, Suite 800Montreal, QC H3A 3R2

Toll Free: 1 (877) 786-3999

www.millenniumscholarships.ca