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Four Facts About the Effects and Cost of InsideTrack Coaching

In a landmark paper published in AERA’s Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis in 2013, “The Effects of Student Coaching: An Evaluation of a Randomized Experiment in Student Advising (PDF),” Dr. Eric Bettinger, Associate Professor of Economics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, led an independent review of controlled studies on the effects of InsideTrack coaching.

Here’s what leaders in higher education need to know about the report and its implications:

1. Coaching works

Dr. Bettinger’s report validated findings that InsideTrack coaching consistently improves retention and graduation across demographic bands by as much as 15%. The U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse then reviewed Bettinger’s analysis of InsideTrack’s methodology and determined it met their evidence standards without reservations, citing its strengths as, “well-executed randomized controlled trials with low attrition.”

The results are clear: coaching had a clear impact on retention and completion rates, and the results do not change when we control for key demographic factors. Also, expenditures on coaching are much smaller than the costs of other methods to encourage persistence in college.” —Professor Eric Bettinger

2. The positive effects of coaching last

In addition to immediately improving retention during the initial treatment period, the impact of properly executed coaching persists over time (see graphic below). This residual impact suggests that coaching contributes to long-term success beyond graduation. It also demonstrates the potential for coaching programs to achieve financial self-sufficiency from revenue over the course of the student lifecycle.

3. Coaching is one of the most cost-effective evidence-based interventions

Bettinger’s report compared the cost of InsideTrack coaching to other evidence-based interventions and found that “coaching also proved a more cost-effective method of achieving retention and completion gains when compared with previously studied interventions such as increased financial aid.” Using data cited in Bettinger’s paper from other well-regarded, peer-reviewed studies, the graphic below illustrates the relative cost-effectiveness of InsideTrack coaching compared to additional financial aid and scholarships. Innovations and investments in InsideTrack’s data, technology, and multi-channel coaching platform continue to improve cost-effectiveness and scalability of InsideTrack coaching solutions. You can read more about using student services to enhance outcomes and reduce costs in this whitepaper.

4. Effective coaching is difficult – but possible – to execute at scale

It’s important to note key distinctions that influence the efficacy and scalability of any coaching, mentoring, or advising program. The “secret sauce” of the InsideTrack coaching reviewed in the report is the relentless and less-than-glamorous execution of best practices. This includes a culture that embraces the tenets of continuous improvement and walks-the-walk of coaching throughout the organization. It works, but the rigorous execution required is not for everyone.


We’re proud of our work helping to bring coaching to the masses and are delighted to see so many embrace coaching and other student-centered approaches. With any evidence-based approach, execution and sustainability are key to ensure results.

Contact us to learn how you can take research and best practices to scale in the real world at your institution.

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