College Enrollment and Stop Out Crisis


There has been a massive drop in undergraduate enrollments and degree completion, particularly for vulnerable and underserved populations in recent years. Less than 25% of students entering community colleges graduate within 3 years and similar effects are seen in 4-year colleges where national graduation rates are 48.3% for first-time full-time students within 6 years. In New York, and particularly at CUNY, this decline has accelerated despite massive federal pandemic aid and significant allocations in the New York state budget.


In collaboration with The Caroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, we have identified a number of promising ideas for addressing these issues, including those from charter school networks (led by KIPP NYC) and individual CUNY campuses (College of Staten Island, LaGuardia Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and School of Professional Studies):

    1. College of Staten Island created a dedicated Stated Island Re-Admissions team partnering with key local community-based organization stakeholders to identify, connect with, re-engage, enroll, provide academic programming and workforce training, and ultimately provide a pathway to gainful employment opportunities for youth within Staten Island. We are supporting this initiative in partnership with the Caroll and Milton Petrie Foundation.
    2. LaGuardia Community College is offering young people the opportunity to try out a college-level course for free, during the evening or weekends, on campus. The program, College & Career Connect (CCC), which we are also supporting collaboratively with the Caroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, serves 2020, 2021, and 2022 high school graduates who are not enrolled in college and offers short-term, 2-month commitment, with successful completion leading to the earning of credits that satisfy degree requirements at LaGuardia Community College.
    3. CUNY School of Professional Studies is offering flexible scheduling and generous credit for prior learning opportunities to re-engage previously enrolled CUNY students by expanding their performance-based admissions program to grant transfer students an opportunity to gain admission by demonstrating their academic proficiencies in an electronic portfolio.
    4. Kingsborough Community College is piloting a re-engagement model to leverage advisors to conduct outreach to prospective students that includes developing a personalized enrollment plan as well as the carrot of a free, one-credit course to increase likelihood of engagement.
    5. KIPP NYC in partnership with Achievement First (collectively referred to as the Postsecondary Success Collaborative) – two of the most successful charter school management organizations – has developed a comprehensive, integrated model of support that leverages their collective experience and scale to dramatically improve postsecondary outcomes. Alumni of both networks, along with Coney Island Prep, are assigned a near-peer College Success Fellow who is both a recent college graduate and Postsecondary Success Collaborative alumnus, to serve as their advisor for two years to increase their chances of degree completion.
    6. Back to Targeted Problem Solving