Can Academic Coaching Improve Marginal College Students' Academic and Labor Market Outcomes?

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


In this project, we evaluate an academic coaching program aimed at improving lower-performing college students’ academic performance. To establish a causal link between mentoring and students’ future outcomes, we leverage a unique aspect of the mentoring program at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. This program effectively randomized students into mentoring groups based on first quarter GPA enabling us to investigate whether coaching impacted students’ attrition, graduation and labor market outcomes. Importantly, we make two unique contributions in this project. We are one of the very few papers to focus on the causal link between college mentoring and labor market outcomes. Indeed, we are currently in the process of acquiring and matching California unemployment insurance records to our student level data enabling us to track the labor market outcomes of all students affected (and unaffected) by the program. Additionally, the coaching program we study specifically targets lower-performing students. As a result, findings from this project may help provide practitioners and policymakers with an effective blueprint for the design of mentoring programs aimed at enhancing lower-performing college students’ success and integration into the labor market. It also serves to add to our understanding of the college interventions that work best for less-prepared students.