College Enrollment

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Among college applicants (preferably to 4-year colleges) does participating in summer enrichment programs influence a student's likelihood of enrolling in the hosting/organizing college?

Hello! Thanks for your question about the influence participation in summer enrichment programs has on students' enrollment at the hosting college. The short version is that while summer programs have little influence on the college choice of students in general, for those who do participate in a summer program, approximately half go on to enroll in the college where the summer program was taken. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.


I personally loved researching this topic as I also completed your first research task regarding the university's perspective on this issue. However, it was difficult to find supporting data this time round as the factors that most influence college choice are not related to summer programs. I will give a brief overview of this in my findings. I came across many reports that may have been useful or provided more insight but they were behind paywalls. I can only assume this is to encourage colleges to pay for this information too. I did find an article on summer programs and their general matriculation rates but not for the specific college the summer program was taken. Then after trying every possible string of relevant keywords, I came across a paper that identified a very small percentage of students surveyed from North Carolina who identify summer programs as a big influence. This find was then followed by locating a great study from the University of Wisconsin where they had analyzed matriculation and graduation success of their summer program participants. This source proved the most valuable and I will go into detail in my findings below.


As mentioned above, summer programs do not have a great influence on students' choice of college in general. According to a report on High School Senior College Choice Factors and Influences, 740 students were surveyed and asked to rank a number of factors according to their influence on the decision-making process. Of the 31 factors suggested, summer programs was not suggested as an influences on choosing a college. Further to this, marketing agency Up&Up, who works specifically with higher education institutions, identified the top five influences as location, financial factors, academic excellence and reputation of the college programs, parents & peers perspective, and the college's marketing. Again, summer programs did not factor.

While summer programs may not be a top factor in students' college choice, they do have an influence, however small. According to a report by the National Summer Learning Association, participation in the NJ LEEP program in Newark, New Jersey, leads to a 100% college matriculation. The report goes on to say that summer programs have the ability to result in matriculation and college graduation rates that greatly exceed district averages. While this data does not relate directly to the specific college the program was taken at, it does highlight the positive influence of summer program participation.

Relating more specifically to the students' individual perspective, a survey was undertaken by Wingate University School of Graduate Education with high school students regarding the important factors in applying for college. From a cohort of students from North Carolina, 5% of students identified summer programs as one of the most influential factors when deciding whether to apply to a specific
college or university. On a side note, of this cohort, 46% also identified campus tours as an influencing factor.

Further to this, the University of Wisconsin has collected data on the application, enrollment and successful graduation of the pre-college enrichment program. In a graph relating to post-secondary plans of high school graduating students, 36% of those enrolled in the pre-college program planned to enroll at the same university campus and 20% planned to enroll in another campus of same institution. In relation to the actions that eventuated, of 2009 high school gradates (the most recent college graduates), 75% of students completed the high school pre-college program, 36% of students completed the high school pre-college program and enrolled at the same university and 23% of students complete the high school pre-college program, enrolled at the university and went on to then graduate. In more recent data, in 2015, 48% of students who participated in the University of Wisconsin's pre-college program, were admitted as freshmen and 96% of these students went on to enroll.


To wrap it up, while summer enrichment programs have little influence on the college choice of students as a whole, for those who do participate in a summer program, approximately half go on to enroll in the college where the summer program was taken.
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