A Single Stop Supports Philadelphia’s First–Time College–Goers

Metis studied the effectiveness of a national model that calls for the co-location of support services for high-risk, first-generation college students. Implemented by the Community College of Philadelphia, the study yielded consistent findings of higher grades, credit accumulation, and overall college persistence.

Metis researchers prepare for one of many presentations of the College of Philadelphia Single Stop study findings. Photo Credit: Michael Scuello.

A college education has become increasingly critical for success in today’s workplace. Yet, while more than 20 million students enroll in college every year, over 40% will drop out. A key reason for this drop-out rate relates to finance. Income is the number one predictor of college graduation.

Aware of these critical statistics, Single Stop USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to reducing poverty, established offices on community college campuses. Single Stop provides students with screening for and access to a wide range of resources, including government benefits and free legal, financial, and tax preparation services, all in one location.

Community College of Philadelphia Adapts Single Stop Model

In 2013, Single Stop USA opened on the campus of the Community College of Philadelphia, which serves approximately 30,000 students. Interested in how these services affect students’ college achievement, persistence, and graduation rates, Single Stop USA contracted Metis to conduct a rigorous quasi-experimental study. The study examined impacts for two groups of students, first-time college and non-first-time college students. An implementation study was also conducted to provide context for the quantitative findings and to offer the best implementation practices and recommendations for program changes.

Higher Outcomes for Single Stop Participants

The Metis research study used propensity score matching to examine program impacts. Throughout the evaluation – spanning three-and-a-half academic years – analyses showed statistically significant positive findings for first-time college students as compared to matched groups of similarly situated non-participating students, including:

  • Higher GPAs
  • Higher ratios of completed-to-attempted degree-bearing credits
  • Higher rates of semester-to-semester persistence

Interim results also showed that non-first-time college students achieved higher gains than did their matched counterparts. These results were true across all outcomes, with the exception of weighted GPAs.

The strong consistency of these findings across outcomes for both student groups indicates the overall effectiveness of the Single Stop program in achieving its key results. Overall, CCP staff, faculty, and students reported that the program had substantial impacts on them continuing in college when it might not otherwise have been possible.