Innovative Student Coaching Program Boosts Enrollment and Retention at Penn State World Campus While Controlling Cost

Penn State and InsideTrack use technology and data analytics to scale student support and enhance outcomes

STATE COLLEGE, PA (February 21, 2019) — Penn State World Campus, Penn State University’s online program that serves more than fourteen thousand students, and student success experts InsideTrack today announced the latest results from a long standing partnership. Through the partnership, World Campus connects students with professional InsideTrack coaches to guide them through the enrollment process, prepare them for success and get them connected to a broad range of student support resources. The two organizations also work together closely to leverage insights gained through the coaching process to streamline operations and enhance the student experience.

In March of 2016, the two organizations partnered to launch a highly scalable Strong Start coaching program, focused on the key transition period between admittance and the end of the second week. By using data analysis to target support and deploying multichannel communication and self-service capabilities for students and coaches, the program provided four times the level of service with no increase in cost. An analysis of the program’s results revealed that it increased first-year retention by 3.6 percentage points and generated a 28 percent increase in enrollment yield.

A Babson Survey Research Group study found that online enrollments continue to rise, even as on-campus student enrollment declines. With most of these enrollments coming from working adults balancing a wide range of commitments outside of school, reaching online students with enhanced support services represents a key focus area for university leaders.

Penn State World Campus has been at the forefront of providing innovative support to online students for more than two decades, earning a reputation as one of the leading providers of high quality online education. In 2010, World Campus partnered with InsideTrack to enhance and scale its student enrollment and support capabilities. The award-winning collaboration is regularly cited as a model for public-private partnerships in higher education.  

“Penn State World Campus students come to the table with tremendous strength and determination, but it’s incumbent on us to provide the personalized support they need to make the most of their educational experience, while balancing busy lives,” said Dr. Renata Engel, vice provost for online education at Penn State. “Having InsideTrack as a strategic thought partner and source of expertise and capacity has enabled us to innovate more quickly, cost-effectively and with greater impact.”

For nearly 20 years, InsideTrack has worked with leading online programs nationwide to enhance student enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. A member of the nonprofit Strada Education Network, InsideTrack’s capacity building services and uCoach® platform enable institutions to implement and sustain their own programs to improve outcomes and generate insights into the student experience through predictive analytics and multichannel communication. InsideTrack’s seasoned team of professional coaches also enables institutions to realize immediate impact as they build for the future.

“Penn State World Campus has consistently set the standard for innovation in online student support,” said Ellen Leher, associate vice president of partner success at InsideTrack. “Their success shows how institutions can effectively combine data, technology and professional expertise to make virtual student services as robust, engaging and effective as those delivered on campus.”


About Penn State World Campus

Penn State World Campus is the online campus of The Pennsylvania State University. Penn State World Campus provides an accessible, high-quality Penn State education online to address the needs of individuals who seek a higher education beyond the traditional campus experience. Partnering with Penn State’s academic units and colleges allows Penn State World Campus to offer more than 150 degree and certificate programs developed and taught by Penn State faculty. Find out more at

About InsideTrack

InsideTrack is passionate about student success. Since 2001, we have been dedicated to partnering with colleges and universities to create adaptive student success solutions that generate measurable results. These solutions combine student coaching, staff training, technology, and data analytics to increase enrollment, completion, and career readiness. Our adaptive coaching methodology is based on the latest behavioral science research and knowledge gained from working with more than 2 million students and currently serving more than 4,000 programs. In combination with our uCoach® Platform, our approach optimizes student engagement and generates valuable insights on the student experience through predictive modeling, behavioral analysis, and multichannel communication. InsideTrack is a member of the nonprofit Strada Education Network. Join us and the leading institutions, foundations, and others working to bring the transformative power of education to all individuals. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack.

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