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Lack of Study Time is the Problem, but What is the Solution? Unsuccessful Attempts to Help Traditional and Online College Students -- by Philip Oreopoulos, Richard W. Patterson, Uros Petronijevic, Nolan G. Pope

We evaluate two low-cost college support programs designed to directly target insufficient study time, a common characteristic among a large fraction of undergraduates. We conduct our experiment across three distinct college-types: (i) a selective urban college campus, (ii) a less-selective suburban college campus, and (iii) an online college, using a combination of unique survey and administrative data. More than 9,000 students were randomly assigned to complete an online planning exercise with information and guidance to create a weekly schedule containing sufficient study time and other obligations. Treated students also received weekly study tips, reminders, and coach consultations via text message throughout the academic year. Despite high levels of fidelity and initial participation, we estimate precise null effects on academic outcomes at each site, implying that the planning treatment was ineffective at improving student credit accumulation, course grades, and retention. We do find suggestive evidence, however, that the planning treatment marginally increased student study time. Taken together, the results suggest that, in addition to helping students stay organized, an effective intervention may need to provide stronger incentives or specific guidance on the tasks to complete while studying.
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