UNC System Enlists InsideTrack to Bring Stopouts Back to College

Initial results show strong return on investment as campuses re-enroll North Carolina adults with some college, but no degree

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (JUNE 30, 2020) — The University of North Carolina System today announced the results of a successful pilot project to help adults with some college credit, but no degree, re-enroll and continue the process of earning their postsecondary credential. The UNC System Office partnered with student success nonprofit InsideTrack to contact more than 2,000 stopped out students from three UNC System campuses — East Carolina University, Fayetteville State University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte — and coach those interested in completing their degrees through the process of re-enrolling and successfully resuming their studies.

“Low-skilled jobs are increasingly imperiled by today’s economic crisis, and tens of thousands of displaced workers will be looking to our world-class state higher education system as a ladder to economic opportunity,” said former North Carolina Governor Beverly Eaves Perdue, a member of InsideTrack’s Advisory Board. “North Carolina higher education leaders have made a forward-looking and strategic decision by engaging success coaches to help stopouts navigate the complex process of returning to finish their studies. Our economy and our citizens will benefit from it as this work expands.”

The initial campaign, which ran from October to December of last year resulted in more than 1,200 former students engaging with a re-enrollment coach and 62 enrolling for the spring term that began in January.  Others are planning to resume their studies later this year and the System Office and individual campuses are already planning future campaigns. In addition to the benefits to students of completing their credentials, the UNC System Office estimates a 10-15 times return on investment to the campuses from increased tuition revenue. In addition, the cost to re-enroll former students is a fraction of the cost of enrolling new students, providing additional return on investment.

“Engaging stopped out students and helping them return to higher education, complete their degrees and gain the skills and credentials necessary for a sustainable career is one of the best investments we can make,” said Eric Fotheringham, director of strategic academic initiatives at the University of North Carolina System. “We partnered with InsideTrack not simply to re-enroll students, but also to prepare them for long-term success. The scalability and cost-effectiveness makes it compelling to move from pilot to wide scale implementation.”

This project highlighted many of the common barriers that cause students to leave college before completing their credentials and also serve as obstacles for returning. Consistent with national research on student stopouts, the coaches found that the primary reasons UNC System students were not planning on returning right away were time management challenges related to balancing school with work and family obligations (46%) and financial resource constraints (24%). Academic challenges were their primary obstacle to returning for only 6 percent of students.

According to the System Office, having re-enrollment coaches engage stopped out students, identify their needs, and prepare them to resume their studies is one way to support universities, so their staff can focus on students that are ready and excited to complete their degrees.  Re-enrollment coaches can also provide actionable insights on proactive measures the campuses can take going forward to reduce the number of stopouts and ensure that those who do stopout have a plan in place for a smooth return.

More than 31 million adults in the U.S., including over a million in the state of North Carolina alone, have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. In response, states, institutions and systems nationwide have launched campaigns to re-engage near-completers and help them earn a credential. A growing number of institutions and systems, including the University of California, California State University and West Virginia University systems, have used InsideTrack’s popular reentry coaching method.

“Going back to school is often difficult for many students at the best of times. Now, as they navigate both a worldwide pandemic and an uncertain labor market, students need personalized support from colleges and universities in order to successfully re-enroll and continue their pathway to a degree,” said Carrie Lockhert, associate vice president of partner success at InsideTrack. “The University of North Carolina System provides a model of what institutions, systems, and states can do to help students return to higher education.”   

For more than 20 years, InsideTrack has worked with colleges and universities nationwide to enhance student enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. A nonprofit member of the Strada Education Network, InsideTrack’s seasoned team of professional coaches, trainers and consultants enables institutions to realize immediate impact as they build for the future.

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About UNC System

The University of North Carolina System is a multi-campus university dedicated to serving our state and its people through world-class teaching, research and scholarship, and outreach and service. The oldest public university in the nation, UNC traces its roots to the state’s 1776 constitution, which held that “All useful Learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more Universities.” Today, nearly 250,000 students are enrolled on 16 university campuses across the state and at the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the country’s first public, residential high school for gifted students. For more information, please visit https://www.northcarolina.edu

About InsideTrack

InsideTrack is passionate about student success. We partner with institutions and organizations to improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our student support methodology uncovers first hand feedback about student goals and challenges. Through strategic guidance, staff training and student coaching, we help institutions turn this feedback into actionable insights that drive better student outcomes. As a nonprofit member of the Strada Education Network, we offer partners access to a comprehensive range of student success solutions as well as the latest research and insights on student success. We’ve supported more than 2 million students since 2001 and currently serve over 4,000 programs. Visit us at www.insidetrack.org and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack.

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