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College Coaching


  • Success Boston focused on getting students ready for, in and through college.
  • Abt evaluated the college coaching strategy.
  • Our results demonstrated that the program is having the desired effects.
The Challenge

In 2007, only 39 percent of Boston public school graduates had completed a post-secondary certificate or degree within seven years of entering college. To improve those stats, the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, and 37 institutions of high education implemented a three-part strategy, Success Boston, focused on getting ready, getting in, and getting through. The program later expanded its mission to include getting connected to the labor market after college graduation.  

The Approach

Abt evaluated one component of the strategy, college coaching, to see if and how it works. Abt is following five cohorts of high-school grads, classes of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 to track their college experiences and achievements. The study: 

  • Uses a quasi-experimental design that matches coached students to students from similar high schools and identical colleges who are statistically equivalent on characteristics  such as gender and race who didn’t participate.  

  • Measures persistence, achievement, and financial aid renewal  

  • Analyzes if impact varies with student characteristics or coaching features 

  • Examines consistency and variation in how students experience coaching 

The Results

The reported results demonstrated that the program is having the desired effects. The study will continue to monitor students’ progress over the next several years, culminating in reports on impacts five and six years after high school graduation that will be published in 2020 and 2022. Those reports will help address questions about whether the positive impacts persist, and whether Success Boston has continued to progress toward its central goal: at least 70 percent of Boston public school college entrants earning college credentials.