WHAT IS A NUDGE AND HOW CAN IT HELP MORE COLLEGE STUDENTS GRADUATE?
College leaders have long known that behavioral and non-academic factors play an important role in students’ decisions to leave college. Students feel disengaged, confused or overwhelmed and lack the mindsets and habits for college success. College students develop study plans that they fail to implement, neglect to file for the financial aid to which they are entitled, interpret early challenges as signs that they don’t belong in college, and avoid seeking help for their mental health or basic needs due to perceived stigma. What if a nudge could help students change their mindsets and behavior—and reach graduation day?
In areas from public health to financial decision making to civic engagement, social scientists are demonstrating the power of nudges to help people make wiser decisions. Nudges have proven effective in increasing the number of people who get flu vaccines, save for retirement and go to the polls on election day. In education, as well, nudges are helping more low-income and first-generation students to enroll in college, stay on track and successfully navigate the path to graduation. Across the nation, policymakers and educators are talking about the power of the nudge to proactively support students and make progress on some of education’s most relentless problems.
But what makes a good nudge, and how can colleges deploy behavioral strategies well? A good nudge is more than just a text message or a simple reminder to do something. So we use the acronym “SUMS” to remind us that a thoughtfully crafted nudge is truly more than the sum of its parts. In our experience, the best nudges are based on scientific knowledge, unobtrusive to the college student experience, focused on changing students’ mindsets over pushing a one-time behavior, and centered on a deep understanding of the college student experience.
Stay Current in Philly's Higher Education and Nonprofit Sector
We compile a weekly email with local events, resources, national conferences, calls for proposals, grant, volunteer and job opportunities in the higher education and nonprofit sectors.