New research analyzing more than 1,000 student support initiatives at 55 institutions found that 40 percent of those services demonstrated no impact on student persistence.
The report, published Tuesday by Civitas Learning, found that, over all, adviser meetings, Greek life, supplemental instruction, scholarship and tutoring are the most effective services to increase persistence.
But the effectiveness varies by demographic. For example, black students are most helped by adviser meetings and tutoring, while Greek life helps white students.
To focus on supports that work to improve persistence, the report recommends that institutions use data, rather than rely on established best practices, to provide supports that best match the needs of their student bodies. To do this, researchers say that institutions will need to allocate funds more precisely, reflect on the demographics of the student body and what they need, and address analytical limitations.