30 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 24, 2017
Deep reinforcement learning using convolutional neural networks is the driving technology behind autonomous vehicles. We apply this same technology to a different journey: the summer transition from high school to college. After being accepted, students must navigate a host of well-defined but often challenging tasks prior to college matriculation. We employ conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to efficiently support thousands of would-be college freshmen by providing personalized, text-message based outreach and guidance for each task where they needed support. We implement this system in the context of a field experiment with Georgia State University (GSU). GSU-committed students assigned to the treatment exhibited greater success with pre-enrollment requirements and were 3.3 percentage points more likely to enroll. These impacts parallel prior interventions but with far less burden on university staff. Given the capacity for AI to learn over time, this intervention has promise for providing personalized college transition guidance at scale.
Keywords: Artifical intelligence; college access; summer melt; randomized controlled trial
JEL Classification: I20, I21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Page, Lindsay C. and Gehlbach, Hunter, How an Artificially Intelligent Virtual Assistant Helps Students Navigate the Road to College (March 24, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2940297