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Andrew Howard Nichols, Ph.D. Senior Research Analyst The Pell Institute Provisional Admission: Enhancing College Opportunity for Academically Underprepared Students. Student Financial Aid Research Network

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Andrew Howard Nichols, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst

The Pell Institute

Provisional Admission:Enhancing College Opportunityfor Academically Underprepared Students

Student Financial Aid Research Network

Philadelphia, PA (June, 2011)

session outline


Definition of Provisional Admission





Discussion / Recommendations

Questions and comments

Session outline
study overview

Joint venture with National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC)

Funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education

Study is complete & report to be published later this summer (2011)

Study Overview
what is provisional admission

A mechanism for colleges to enroll students who show potential to succeed in college but may not meet standard or preferred academic qualifications.

  • Provisionally admitted students are asked to satisfy requirements beyond what is expected of regularly admitted students.
    • Meet certain academic performance requirements,
    • Take specific classes or a reduced course load
    • Utilize or participate in special student services
  • Provisional admission practices also are referred to by other names, such as conditional admission.
What is Provisional Admission?
the case for provisional admission

Initial enrollment at a 4-year college is positively related to bachelor’s degree attainment

Programs / policies often include additional support and structure

Help enhance institutional diversity

Relatively unexplored in the research literature

The case for Provisional Admission
design mixed methods approach

Quantitative: 17-item survey sent to admission office personnel at 1,263 distinct 4-year institutions. 26% response rate.

    • Administered in Fall 2010 as part of NACAC’s Annual Admission Trends Survey
  • Qualitative: Document analysis, interviews, & focus group discussions during site visits to 5 four-year campuses with provisional admission programs / policies
Design – Mixed methods approach

Sample (n = 330)

  • Sample was fairly representative with regard to:
    • Control– slightly more privates (73%)
    • Region – S/SW slightly underrepresented
    • Enrollment – smaller colleges underrepresented
    • Selectivity
  • Analysis – frequencies & percentages with crosstabular, correlation, and mean comparison
    • Control, enrollment, %Pell, and selectivity
survey findings

57% (148) of respondents had PA initiatives according to our definition

    • PA positively related to %Pell and acceptance rate
  • Average size = 104 (F2009) & 107(F2010)
    • Larger at public institutions
    • Size positively related to enrollment
    • Provisional admits about 5% of full-time, first-time admits in F2010
Survey Findings
survey findings cont

79% of institutions DIDN’T target specific student populations

    • Most selective more likely to target selected students
    • Public more likely to target athletes
    • Larger schools more likely to target racial/ethnic & 1st-gen students
  • Only 18% of institutions conducted special outreach
    • Selective more likely to reach out
Survey findings (cont.)
survey findings cont1

Program components

    • Specific courses (62%)
    • Reduced course load (61%)
    • Minimum GPA (50%)
    • Orientation (48%)
    • Full-time attendance (63%)
      • 70% Private, 33% Public (High %Pell were less likely to require)
    • Only 18% offered financial support
  • Required Services
    • Regular meetings with advisor (88%)
    • Mandated tutoring (67%)
    • Peer Mentoring (36%)
Survey findings (cont.)
survey findings cont2

Evaluation & Success

    • 72% indicated they evaluate…something
      • 1st year GPA (84%)
      • 1st to 2nd year retention (82%)
      • Cumulative GPA (58%)
      • 4 year graduation rate (51%)
      • 6 year graduation – Public (67%), Private (34%)
  • 72% of students in these programs were retained to the second year
    • Moderate negative relationship between %Pell and 1st year completion
Survey Findings (cont.)
conclusions from survey

Provisional admission initiatives can be expanded, particularly at 4yr public institutions

Increase outreach & target services toward historically underrepresented groups

Programs seem fairly successful with 1st year retention – our data compared favorably to IPEDS & ACT data

Long-term impact of these programs needs to be examined. Unable to obtain 6yr graduation rates

Conclusions from survey
site visit selection criteria

The institution must be a 4-year, bachelor degree-granting institution within the United States that receives Title IV funds.

  • The institution must exceed their respective sector’s percent increase between 1998/99 and 2007/08 in Pell grant recipients.
    • 26.5% for public institutions
    • 28.9% for private institutions
Site Visit Selection criteria
site visit selection criteria cont

The institution’s percentage of undergraduates receiving Pell grants must exceed their respective sector’s representation of all Pell grant recipients in 07/08.

    • 30.3% for public institutions
    • 13.6% for private institutions
  • The institution must have a broad academic focus. Schools were removed if they had a specific focus (e.g., bible colleges, medical, art, etc.)
Site visit selection criteria (cont.)
site visit selection criteria cont1

Started with over 1,500 institutions

  • Ended up with slightly over 200
  • 6 item screening survey was sent to schools that were NACAC member institutions
  • Browsed websites and made phone calls
  • Invited 13 schools to participate and 5 agreed
    • Pine Manor College (MA), California State University – Stanislaus (CA), Fayetteville State University (NC), Winthrop University (SC), and Notre Dame College (OH)
Site visit selection criteria (cont.)
site visit findings conclusions

Discovered three PA models

    • Supplemental tutoring model
      • Winthrop University
      • Notre Dame College
    • Cohort-based curricular instruction model
      • Pine Manor College
    • Summer bridge experience model
      • California State University, Stanislaus
      • Fayetteville state university
Site visit Findings & Conclusions
site visit findings conclusions1

Students Benefits of PA

    • Provided educational opportunity
    • Promoted academic success
      • Academic skill building
      • Study and time management skills
      • Helped build confidence
    • Helped students build relationships
      • Peer friendships
      • Connections with faculty
Site visit Findings & Conclusions
recommendations for pa initiatives

No “best” provisional model

Require academic support

Clearly outline policies and requirements

Involve faculty

Establish early contact

Encourage engagement

Monitor student performance

Maintain contact


Recommendations for PA initiatives
comments questions

Andrew Howard Nichols, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst

The Pell Institute

Comments & Questions