The Effects of Student Coaching in College: An Evaluation of a Randomized Experiment in Student Mentoring

36 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011 Last revised: 16 Feb 2023

See all articles by Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger

Stanford University

Rachel Baker

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: March 2011


College completion and college success often lag behind college attendance. One theory as to why students do not succeed in college is that they lack key information about how to be successful or fail to act on the information that they have. We present evidence from a randomized experiment which tests the effectiveness of individualized student coaching. Over the course of two separate school years, InsideTrack, a student coaching service, provided coaching to students from public, private, and proprietary universities. Most of the participating students were non-traditional college students enrolled in degree programs. The participating universities and InsideTrack randomly assigned students to be coached. The coach contacted students regularly to develop a clear vision of their goals, to guide them in connecting their daily activities to their long term goals, and to support them in building skills, including time management, self advocacy, and study skills. Students who were randomly assigned to a coach were more likely to persist during the treatment period, and were more likely to be attending the university one year after the coaching had ended. Coaching also proved a more cost-effective method of achieving retention and completion gains when compared to previously studied interventions such as increased financial aid.

Suggested Citation

Bettinger, Eric and Baker, Rachel, The Effects of Student Coaching in College: An Evaluation of a Randomized Experiment in Student Mentoring (March 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16881, Available at SSRN:

Eric Bettinger (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Rachel Baker

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA California 62697-3125
United States

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