4-year Colleges and Universities
Community Colleges
Higher Education
Online, Professional & Continuing Education
Student Support
Adult Education
Partner Outcomes
Federal Grants

Creating pathways for underserved students to re-enroll and thrive

Higher ed leaders are well aware that there are now more than 40 million adults nationwide who enrolled in college but stopped out before earning a degree or certificate. It’s a staggering number — higher than ever before — but looked at differently, it’s also a great opportunity for colleges and universities who truly want to make a difference in the lives of their communities. Always looking for ways to increase student enrollment and completion rates, and ultimately to promote economic opportunity, a growing number of states, institutions and higher education systems have launched campaigns aimed at reconnecting with former students and bringing them back to school to fulfill their goal of earning a degree or credential. We’re honored to be a part of this critical movement.

In 2023, InsideTrack helped support 51 partner institutions with their re-enrollment efforts — and the results are as encouraging. We are excited to share more information about these initiatives, along with some of the success stories.

Connecting learners back to school — and supporting them through completion

Working to engage the many “some college, no credential” students, specially trained InsideTrack coaches reached out to nearly 26,000 individuals last year through re-enrollment coaching initiatives with 51 of our partners. These partner institutions represent a broad cross-section of colleges and universities — including 16 community and technical colleges (4 of which are Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs), 21 private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and 14 public universities (including 11 HBCUs and three HSIs). This diversity in institution type and student populations is significant, as a disproportionate number of stopped-out learners are students of color, first-generation students or learners facing other systemic barriers.

As part of our holistic coaching solutions, our approach to re-enrollment involves using one-on-one, tech-enabled coaching to engage former students and support them through the challenges of returning to higher education. This includes working with them via multi-channel communications — from texts  and emails to phone calls and video chats — to help them navigate the enrollment process. InsideTrack coaches work with learners on everything from defining long-term goals, connecting with resources, and finding ways to manage potential completion barriers to balancing the competing demands of work, family and school. It can also mean reminding them of the reasons they decided to pursue school in the first place— their “why” — when the going gets too tough. 

The ideal scenario — and what often happens — is for the coaching relationship to continue throughout the re-enrolled student’s program of study. This gives them the support needed to earn their degree and change their future. Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack, explains, “There are millions of talented, and often highly motivated, individuals in our communities who are near the finish line of not only earning a degree, but the prospect of a markedly better life and economic prospects. This is about creating pathways to possibility for Americans who are currently locked out of economic opportunity.”

Making a measurable difference

The preliminary data indicates that the colleges and universities using re-enrollment coaches were able to contact more than 6,800 former students and ultimately re-enroll 1,850 (or 7% of all the student names provided)a rate 4 times higher than the national re-enrollment rate calculated by the National Student Clearinghouse. 

What’s more, institutions found that coaching is not only an effective way to boost re-enrollment, but also a cost-effective one. The cross-institutional evaluation found that participating partner colleges collectively will retain an estimated $30 million in tuition revenue in the first year. That eye-opening number is helped by the fact that much of the re-enrollment work was funded through federal grants and philanthropic partnerships, making re-enrollment coaching an even smarter institutional decision.

The schools behind the numbers

There are countless compelling success stories that have come out of our re-enrollment initiatives with our partner institutions across the country. Here are a few that represent the transformative power of coaching:

Working together toward a statewide goal

An initiative known as NC Reconnect was formed to bring North Carolina adults back to finish their degrees — ultimately supporting the statewide goal of seeing two million residents become college-degreed workers by 2030. During the first of what would become five cohorts and counting, InsideTrack provided re-enrollment coaching for five NC community colleges to re-engage 12,000 stopped-out students. Over the course of three program cohorts, 2,035 former students who worked with an InsideTrack coach re-enrolled.

Helping California adults reconnect to college

Through the California Reconnect initiative, InsideTrack has joined forces with several other nonprofit organizations to reach out to some of the four million “some college, no credential” students in the state to encourage finishing their studies and reaping the economic benefits of a degree. To date, these CA Reconnect partnerships have produced an impressive 8.4% re-enrollment rate across seven California colleges and universities.

Collaborating to support HBCU students

As part of a highly successful and on-going partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), InsideTrack initially collaborated with nine UNCF HBCUs and PBIs to bring stopped-out students back to school. The benchmark re-enrollment rate was set at 4% — and, by providing direct, one-to-one coaching and proactive, personalized outreach, we were able to double the expected goal, with a final pilot re-enrollment rate of 8.6%. This program has now expanded to nearly 50 different HBCUs, with returning students receiving additional coaching support through their first term back in school and support staff receiving training to embed coaching throughout their everyday student-facing work.

The many benefits of re-enrollment

When championing re-enrollment efforts, the benefits to the re-enrolling students and to their chosen institutions of higher learning spring first to mind. But employers and communities also benefit considerably from having a greater pool of college graduates and certificate holders with the education or training required for in-demand, better-paying jobs. Mike Krause, senior advisor at the John M. Belk Endowment, notes, "As communities and employers grapple with a vast shortage of talent, a growing number of policymakers, higher education leaders and grant-makers are all recognizing that bringing adult learners back to college campuses is an education and workforce imperative.”

This dearth of credentialed workers adds motivation and urgency to the continuing re-enrollment efforts. It’s more important than ever to get as many former students as possible back on track for completion. The success of last year’s initiatives buoyed our commitment to helping our partners to prove, in the words of Ruth Bauer White, “that institutions can make a meaningful dent for the 40 million Americans with some college and no degree with the right resources, expertise and an institution-wide commitment.”

Looking for more information about re-enrollment statistics, strategies and success stories?

Coaching solutions proven to advance all learners

Whether you’re looking to help students persist through completion or to improve career outcomes for job seekers and employees, our holistic coaching solutions can help you achieve meaningful outcomes.