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The Bottom Line on College Counseling

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2017
41 pages

This paper seeks to fill a knowledge gap about college advising programs and their impact on student college success by contributing new, precisely estimated evidence of the effects of Bottom Line, an intensive college advising model.


In this paper, the authors report on their multi-cohort, randomized control trial of the Bottom Line (BL) college advising model. The authors found that the BL model of advising students during high school and into college, combined with explicit guidance to students about applying to and attending institutions where they are likely to be successful without taking on substantial costs, led to large effects on college enrollment. The authors also found that those effects grew over time as program participants were more likely to persist in college than control group students, who did not receive BL advising. Additional survey result data gave insights into counselor-student interaction information, and quasi-random counselor assignment indicated that the BL program had little effect on FAFSA filing but rather works by altering application behavior and allowing students to balance cost and quality considerations in choosing where to enroll, and providing ongoing support while students are in college. The authors report consistency over time, space, counselors, and student characteristics, and suggest that this indicates that the BL model is highly scalable.

Date Published: October 1, 2017