The process of navigating the college process is incredibly complicated, especially for first-generation, college-bound students who may not have an understanding of the college landscape and the myriad steps necessary to apply and enroll in college. In order to ensure that our students have the greatest opportunity for post-secondary success, iMentor provides curriculum and case management to support pairs in project-managing the college application, financial aid, and transition process. In an effort to determine how many of our students are navigating each step of the post-secondary process and to learn how we can better support them, the Research and Evaluation team works in collaboration with the program implementation team to track this information for seniors each year.
Why we use the Post-Secondary Tracker
Because we diligently track this information, we know that, of the students in the class of 2016 that applied to college, 87% of them filled out FAFSA. We also know that 97% of students that applied to college were accepted. These figures are promising and point to the fact that, when students execute the steps in the college process, they reach the goal of college acceptance. However, understanding students' progress in the aggregate is not the only reason we use the Post-Secondary Tracker. With sizable caseloads, knowing which students have completed each step of the process can be difficult for Program Managers (PMs) to keep track of. This tool also helps Program Managers understand their students' progress to date and direct their support efforts based on that information.
What information do we collect and how do we do it?
PMs are provided a link to an online Microsoft Excel document, grouped by supervisor, that displays a list of all students currently active on their caseload. Throughout the year, PMs are responsible for recording each students' progress through the post-secondary process as steps are completed using this document. Information collected includes:
- College application submission
- This includes submissions to different types of schools, such as CUNY and SUNY schools or via the Common App
- FAFSA completion
- College acceptances
- Student Intent to enroll in a particular school
- Student enrollment in a college-opportunity program
Additionally, for students not intending to enroll in college, PMs records whether they have an alternative post-secondary plan.
How to use the Post-Secondary Tracker
- The first, and arguably most crucial step when using the tracker is confirming student contact information, legal name and date of birth. Confirming or updating contact information ensures we will be able to get in touch with the student in order to provide them support after high school. Ensuring accurate names and date of birth allow us to obtain information from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) regarding student's college enrollment and persistence. After making and necessary corrections to contact information, name and date of birth, PMs indicate they have done so by selecting "Yes" in the appropriate column of the tracker. If the information is correct as listed, PMs simply select "Yes" to indicate they have reviewed and confirmed the information. For guidance in how to edit information on the platform, such as date of birth, please refer to Changing Date of Birth on the Platform.
- From this point forward, PMs must enter correct information regarding the students progress through the post-secondary process for the remaining columns by selecting a value from the available options in the drop-down menu. Each column must be completed by the corresponding due date. Columns are color-coded according to due date as follows (this guide also appears in the tracker itself).
- Note regarding the FAFSA column: This drop-down includes an “other” option because some undocumented students complete financial aid for some schools, such as CUNY, in a less “official” way, but we still want to include them in our data.
Important Notes About the Post-Secondary Tracker
- Because trackers are organized by supervisor, several program managers can be editing one sheet at the same time. Due to this operational consideration, please ONLY use these trackers in Excel Online. This will eliminate any potential disasters of saving different versions, and other users edits not being saved.
- While noted above, the confirmation of student legal names and birth dates is worth reiterating. Ensure the names on the tracker and platform are LEGAL names, NOT preferred names. If we do not have the correct legal name for a student, we will be unable to obtain information from NSC regarding college enrollment, persistence and completion.
- If any of your students are NOT MATCHED, please make sure to fill out a reason as to why in the “Not Matched Reason” column.
- DO NOT DELETE AND COLUMNS FROM THE TRACKER! They are collect critical data points necessary for evaluating programmatic effectiveness. If you’d like to make the tracker more manageable please feel free to hide columns, but please DO NOT DELETE!