What Can a Multifaceted Program Do for Community College Students?
In recent years, there has been unprecedented national focus on the importance of increasing the stubbornly low graduation rates of community college students. The City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is an uncommonly multifaceted and long-term program designed to help community college students graduate. This report by MDRC presents very promising early findings from a random assignment study of ASAP at three CUNY community colleges. Key findings include effects on:
- Full-time enrollment. During the study’s first semester, ASAP increased full-time enrollment by 11 percentage points: 96 percent of the students assigned to ASAP enrolled full time, compared with 85 percent of the comparison group.
- Credits earned and completing developmental coursework. ASAP increased the average number of credits earned during the first semester by 2.1 credits and increased the proportion of students who completed their developmental coursework by the end of that semester by 15 percentage points.
- Semester-to-semester retention. ASAP increased the proportion of students who enrolled in college during the second semester by 10 percentage points and increased full-time enrollment that semester by 21 percentage points.
ASAP’s early effects are larger than the effects of most of the community college programs MDRC has studied previously. ASAP’s comprehensive package of financial aid, services, and supports, together with its full-time attendance requirement, has resulted in students taking and passing more credits than they would have otherwise. Future reports will show whether these effects can be sustained — or even grow — as students continue in this comprehensive, three-year program.