Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Plugging holes in North Carolina’s leaky education pipeline: Reducing summer melt in community colleges

Every year, a significant portion of high school graduates who were planning to enroll in college fail to do so. This is a phenomenon known as “summer melt,” and it’s the largest leak in North Carolina’s education pipeline. This student paper from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy includes research and analysis on national best practices to consider what interventions would best reduce summer melt in the North Carolina Community College System.

Policy context

Scholarly research shows that many students encounter formidable obstacles between graduating high school and starting college. Students face isolation, a lack of support, and unfamiliarity with the enrollment process. In many cases, these summer challenges lead high school graduates to abandon their college plans. This phenomenon, summer melt, is defined as college-intending high school graduates failing to enroll in college the fall after high school graduation. Current national research estimates that 10-20% of high school graduates “melt.”[i] Higher rates of summer melt occur among low- to moderate-income students and first-generation college students.[ii] 

National summer melt research

National research from education scholars Drs. Benjamin Castleman and Lindsay Page provides us a framework for analyzing summer melt and an overview of possible intervention methodologies. We found a significant gap in summer melt research at the community college level. Other education researchers have noted this gap as a concern.[iii] Local policies and open enrollment systems stifle summer melt research within the community college context.

A major challenge results the fact that community college research largely applies only within a specific state’s community college system with its unique programs, legislation, funding, and local economies. This localized research may be helpful for understanding the landscape of a specific state, it does not necessarily have the ability to be replicated nationally. Additionally, open enrollment systems complicate summer melt measurement and tracking. Other researchers posit that in open enrollment systems, students are not penalized by missing deadlines like in four-year institutions. While slightly more complex, we argue summer melt applies to the community college system.

National experts Drs. Ben Castleman and Lindsay Page worked on a groundbreaking summer melt project at Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research in 2013. This research, called the Strategic Data Project (SDP) Summer Melt Handbook, defined summer melt, analyzed its causes, and outlined policy intervention options. The SDP summarized interventions implemented from 2008 to 2013. Drs. Castleman and Page found that interventions targeting four-year institutions improved enrollment an average of 3.3 percentage points. When disaggregated by student demographics, impacts were larger among low-income and first-generation students, at 8 to 12 percentage points.[iv] Their research did not include community college interventions.

Both researchers have subsequently conducted studies on interventions such as artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, peer outreach, texting parents, and one-on-one counseling. These studies show consistent intervention result in 3 to 4 percentage point increases in overall enrollment, with larger impacts for low-income and first-generation college students. AI chatbots are the most cost-effective intervention. But even just 2 to 3 hours of one-on-one counseling during the summer transition improves enrollment by 3 percentage points.[v] 

AI Chatbots versus summer melt

A particularly promising experiment involves a partnership between Georgia State University (GSU) and AdmitHub, an education technology company. They partnered to create a “smart tool” that assisted potential GSU students with enrollment tasks. AdmitHub built an artificially intelligent, text-messaging chatbot—named “Pounce,” after the GSU mascot—to text students about required transition tasks and pending deadlines. Among GSU-committed students, those who received the text outreach were 3.3 percentage points more likely to begin their fall semester at GSU.[vi]  GSU, AdmitHub, and Dr. Page have also partnered to expand Pounce to persistence tasks as well. A full academic report will be available in 2020.

As education attainment rises, the increasing number of students will strain student support services. But technology like chatbots frees up time for counselors to dedicate their energies toward more complicated questions from students and for one-on-one counseling time. An AdmitHub and New Jersey Ocean County College (OCC) case study, published in March of 2019, quantifies the impact a chatbot had within a community college system. The OCC chatbot increased enrollment by 1.9% and saved nearly 6 weeks of staff time by answering questions on behalf of counselors.[vii]

This case study also highlights additional chatbot strengths. For busy community college students who have families or other jobs, chatbots are available 24/7 to answer questions. Twenty-four percent of all chatbot engagement occurred between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. First year students engaged with the chatbots on a range of issues from financial aid to campus life and academics (See Figure 1).

New Jersey Ocean County College. Source: AdmitHub

North Carolina context

Summer melt in the North Carolina Community College System

Research by Dr. Rebecca Tippett of Carolina Demography shows that one of the NCCCS enrollment challenges is summer melt. In the context of this report, we are defining college-intending students in North Carolina as high school seniors who signaled their intention to enroll in community colleges on an annual North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) intentions-based survey.[viii]  Summer melt is the tendency of those community college-intending students to not enroll in the fall after high school graduation. We refer to this summer melt problem as involving a “leaky pipeline.” The term leaky pipeline comes from a study by Dr. Tippett that identified points along the education pipeline subject to leaks. These leaks occur where students fail to complete the next necessary steps to postsecondary education completion (See Figure 2).

Figure 2. Carolina Demography – NC’s Leaky Education Pipeline. Source: NC’s Leaky Education Pipeline & Pathways to 60% Postsecondary Attainment

We limit our study and these definitions to high school students who “melt” during the summer transition after graduation. Non-traditional students encounter different enrollment issues not included in our research. Through a longitudinal study, Dr. Tippett, Director of Carolina Demography, noted vulnerable transitions, or turns in the pipeline, that derail college and career success in North Carolina (See Figure 1). Along the leaky pipeline, Dr. Tippett identified the greatest loss point as the transition from high school to postsecondary education. To measure these losses, she compiled and analyzed data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the NCCCS.[ix]

Pairing the DPI data on high school graduates and NCCCS data for 2016, Dr. Tippett found that approximately one in four North Carolina high school graduates melted. NCCCS-intending students melted at higher rates than those intending to enroll in four-year institutions. In total, 17% of NCCCS-intending students melted. Of these approximately 17,500 students, the majority were first-generation, low-income, and students of color, specifically Hispanic and Black students. Over 50% of the NCCCS-intending students would be the first in their family to earn a postsecondary degree. Melt rates matter because national research shows that after a full year of not being in school, individuals are less likely to pursue post-secondary education.[x]

NCCCS administrator survey

Based upon a survey we designed for EducationNC’s ReachNC Voices tool that reached 20,000 NCCCS administrators with 383 respondents, we were able to explore NCCCS summer melt awareness (See also Appendix B). Of the 383 participants, 56% had never heard the term summer melt.  When we provided the definition of summer melt, only 7% of administrators claimed that summer melt is not an issue at his or her institution (See Figure 3).[xi]

Figure 3. NCCCS Perceptions of Summer Melt. Source: ReachNC Voices Survey Results as of April 19, 2019

We also utilized this survey to better understand causes of summer melt within NCCCS. (See Figure 4). “Sticker shock” remains a stumbling block. Some believe community college educations are free while others lack understanding of the available scholarships and funding. Of those NCCCS administrators who responded that summer melt is a problem at their institution, 45% attribute financial issues as the cause.  Qualitative interviews and survey results highlight that navigating education remains tougher for those without family experience in the college process. Twenty-one percent attribute summer melt to missing enrollment deadlines, despite having an open enrollment system. This conflicts with expert perspectives, earlier discussed in the national research section of this paper, that due to open enrollment, summer melt is not a community college challenge.

Figure 4. NCCCS Administrators Perceptions of Summer Melt Causes. Source: ReachNC Voices Survey Results as of April 12, 2019

The NCCCS and North Carolina labor market connection

In 2016, the North Carolina Labor and Economic Analysis Division projected job growth through 2026 in its evaluation of employers’ labor market demands. The Division’s data indicates that 22% of future jobs require either community college certificates and degrees (See Figure 5).[xii] North Carolina’s labor market need approximately 150,000 new associate’s degree and non-degree credentials holders in order to meet labor market demands by 2026.

Figure 5. Fastest-Growing Jobs Require More Education

The most projected job growth requiring community college education occurs within the technology and health sectors.[xiii] This projected growth demands cooperation between commerce and education sectors. Most students fail to realize the value of a community college education. Industries change so quickly, degree programs do not exist, and students underestimate the economic impact of an associate’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs requiring an associate’s degree had an annual median wage of about $53,000, which is $16,000 more than those with a high school education.[xiv] Wages and economic growth are not the only returns from greater educational attainment. Students with postsecondary education have lower unemployment rates, increased civic engagement, and improved physical/emotional health.[xv]

Interviews with North Carolina officials

To gain a deeper understanding of current community college summer melt issues within North Carolina, we conducted interviews with relevant officials at state education agencies and community college campus leaders. See Appendix A for a full interviewee list.

Common themes

Across our interviews, we found two common themes. First, a lack of data interoperability and communication exists between the K-12 and community college systems. Data on student’s intentions and their associated post-secondary outcomes is currently segmented out by education agency. Summer melt occurs during the critical transition period between high school and college – a time when students are not claimed by any system. Thus, summer melt is not being tracked by any agency. But some researchers, such as Dr. Tippett at Carolina Demography, have started to aggregate state data to identify trends in the leaky pipeline towards postsecondary attainment. Second, due in part to the lack of concrete tracking and data, no comprehensive plan exists from any state agency to address summer melt in the community college system.

Our interviewees offered a variety of perspectives on the issue of summer melt. A few key takeaways include:

  1. State agencies have no comprehensive plan for reducing summer melt in community colleges. Any work being done is being locally driven, typically by specific community college campus leaders.
  2. Students’ lack of knowledge about enrollment processes and the perceived value of a community college education are key factors in community college summer melt.
  3. The open enrollment timeline and process for community college enrollment makes tracking the issue of summer melt particularly difficult.
  4. The lack of a fully operational state longitudinal data system hinders the ability for administrators and educators to track student intentions and outcomes over time.

Interviews with officials at North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

At the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI), we spoke with representatives from the Advanced Learning & Gifted Education, Data Management, and Communications teams. These interviewees emphasized that each education system – K-12, community college, UNC, and private institutions –gathers their own data. Yet smoothly connecting data systems requires continued refinement of data processes that is currently ongoing.

The most relevant data for tracking summer melt comes from responses to the post-graduation intentions survey that DPI annually administers to North Carolina high school seniors. This self-reported survey data is the most relevant indicator for tracking community college summer melt. However, self-reported data comes with numerous, potential validity issues. Students may provide inaccurate survey responses if they do not actually know what they plan to do after graduation. Students also may not take the survey seriously or provide authentic answers. Yet senior year student-intention surveys are still the best indicator available for understanding students’ post-secondary intentions.

Interviews with officials at North Carolina Community College System

At the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), we spoke with representatives from the Research & Performance, Academic Programs, and Students Services teams. Similar to the K-12 system, NCCCS has no comprehensive community college system-wide initiative focused on reducing summer melt. Interviewees recognized that many of the barriers identified in national research regarding summer melt at four-year universities can also be stumbling blocks for students within the community college systems. The most commonly cited factors include: lack of familial support, inexperience navigating the processes and paperwork required, and difficulty understanding the financial aid process.[xvi] These align with the responses we received in our broader survey of NCCCS administrators, discussed previously in this report.

The continuation of ongoing data process refinement is necessary to ensure data sharing across all education agencies. Interviewees emphasized that while each education system – K-12, community college system, and the UNC system – is gathering their own data, they face challenges with sharing that data smoothly.

Summer melt is not currently being systematically tracked by the community college system. In the current community college data management system, each individual campus stores applicant information. The central office maintains records for students who are or have been enrolled in courses at a community college. While some community college leaders recognize that summer melt is an issue, the inability to effortlessly follow student outcomes from the K-12 to community college system hinders tracking. Moving forward, connecting data across systems in a way that is useful and timely is a priority.

Community college leaders also noted that the open enrollment structure of the community college makes tracking challenging, since students do not have the same defined deadlines as in traditional four-year institutions. Students have the opportunity to enroll for classes almost until the day the semester begins. In contrast, four-year institutions can easily identify student as “melting” if they fail to meet pre-determined deadlines on the way to enrollment.

NC Works

Other state-level programs exist to address community college enrollment issues by directly engaging high school students. One such program is NC Works. NC Works is a statewide collaboration with partners including: NC Department of Commerce, NCCCS, DPI, and the NC Department of Health and Human Systems.[xvii] NC Works is primarily funded through federal grants under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which are distributed across partner agencies.[xviii]

Created by a 2016 General Assembly mandate, the NC Works Career Coach program places community college career coaches in selected high schools.[xix] These career coaches assist students with defining personal career goals and identifying relevant community college programs that allow students to achieve those goals. The Career Coach program works in tandem with NC Works Certified Career Pathways. These Pathways contain established community college course sequences which lead to certifications and degrees meeting local workforce needs.[xx]

The sample of students participating in the Career Coach program is limited, yet the program has some early promising results. The program has eased the financial burden of education and training for career seekers and increased regional support, capacity building, and workforce partner collaboration. By placing the focus on ultimate career outcomes that are attainable after completing specific community college programs, the Career Coach and Certified Career Pathways programs help emphasize the value of a community college education. These programs indicate that education and workforce agencies can find significant value in working together, both to achieve increased educational attainment for students and to achieve economic development goals.

According to the most recent state program report (from the 2016-17 school year) 55 Career Coaches were in 42 Local Education Agencies.[xxi] They counseled 12,149 students, representing only 2% of all North Carolina students.[xxii] While showing promise for connecting programs across education systems and workforce agencies, Career Coaches currently have a limited impact with greater potential.

Lenoir Community College

A few individual community college campuses do have initiatives focused on summer melt. During the 2019-20 school year, Lenoir Community College (LCC) partnered with East Carolina University (ECU) and UNC researchers to pilot an AdmitHub chatbot. This chatbot resembles the program used by Georgia State University. It is funded through a $47,000 GEAR UP grant.

LCC representatives acknowledged that summer melt was an issue that they had not previously tracked. This was partly due to the challenges of the open-enrollment structure. Prior to the chatbot pilot program, LCC’s main tactic for reducing summer melt had previously focused on sending out hard-copy letters to students about the enrollment process. These letters did help provide students with increased access to enrollment processes information and deadline reminders. Yet administrators felt that utilizing a digital connection platform via AdmitHub could help both deepen and expand their reach to students.

Through its partnership with AdmitHub, LCC identified 200 high school seniors who had applied to LCC by the spring of their senior year. AdmitHub then randomly assigned them to either a treatment or control group. The treatment group received access to “Lance,” an automated chatbot. The control group only received traditional hard-copy letters about the enrollment process. Lance sent text-message reminders to students about important upcoming course enrollment deadlines, financial aid requirements, and other timely information for incoming students (See Figure 6 for an example).

Lance’s tone was intended to be conversational and intended to build rapport and comfort amongst students. Students were able to ask questions and interact with Lance regarding the navigation of the enrollment process. The chatbot was able to answer a majority of questions. However, students who had unanswered questions were paired with a personal staff contact at LCC.[xxiii] 

The program’s grant included funding to support 50,000 chatbot messages per month. The grant also covered staff support from AdmitHub for the technical implementation, weekly phone conferences, suggested language for campaigns, initial knowledge base for the bot, annual business reviews and a schedule of suggested student engagement points. [xxiv]

Early results of the program are promising. Seventy-five percent of potential students who were identified opted into the study. While 46% of students in the treatment group enrolled at LCC in the fall, just 32% of those in the control group enrolled (See Figure 7). Further research is needed to make any conclusive claims about the efficacy of this chatbot system. However, this pilot indicates promise that the chatbot model that works well at the community college level as well as four-year universities.

Figure 7: Lenoir Community College AdmitHub Pilot Program Outcomes

LCC administrators noted limitations for continued chatbot use or potential expansion to other campuses. Maintenance and upkeep of the chatbot system requires at least a half-time staff person, which can be a large budgetary commitment for smaller community colleges. Funding for the chatbot itself is also a potential limitation. The initial pilot-year funding for the partnership with AdmitHub was provided by a one-year GEAR UP grant.[xxv]

Moving forward, LCC plans to fund the chatbot for the upcoming 2019-20 school year using funds from their Student Services budget. The cost will be reduced by $10,000 from the additional implementation cost for a total of $37,000 for one year. This price reduction is possible because infrastructure for the chatbot was implemented in the first year and now only requires updating. Administrators believe that another full year of implementation will allow them to gain a clearer understanding of how the system works. It could also allow them to expand their use of the chatbot to focus on retention of current students as well. [xxvi]

Richmond Community College

Richmond Community College (RCC) provides another example of innovative enrollment-focused work relating to summer melt in North Carolina at the community college level. RCC’s initiatives are not aimed at reducing summer melt specifically. Yet their broader focus on articulating the value of a community college education and streamlining the enrollment process for students can help address key summer melt causes.

RCC works closely with local high schools to connect with students and help them use Career Coach software. Career Coach software helps students identify and achieve their specific career goals through programs and courses offered specifically at RCC meeting local workforce needs (See Figure 8 for an example). [xxvii] Local high school students use the Career Coach software to complete career assessments, identify personal career matches based on their strengths, and identify specific community college pathways that may be a good fit. Students can also build and edit a professional resume through the software.

Figure 8. Example of Career Coach Software

In addition to providing high schools with this software, RCC will fund a Career Planner coach at Richmond High School for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. The Career Planner coach will serve as a dedicated college and career counselor for the school year. A key component of the Coach’s role will be to ensure that every senior completes a career plan by the winter break of their senior year. The Career Planner coach will help students identify necessary pre-requisite courses for programs at RCC and encourage students to take advantage of the dual enrollment opportunities available under North Carolina’s Career and College Promise Program.

RCC partners with specific local high schools to promote the value of its career programs. It also streamlines enrollment processes and programs to ensure student success. RCC offers a variety of both degree and credential-focused courses that connect directly to local workforce needs such as healthcare and utility services.

RCC has collaborated with regional workforce partners, including Duke Energy and other utility providers, to create specific programs that lead to employment opportunities in the region. The 10-week Electric Lineman program, for example, prepares students for linemen careers. It develops technical skills as well as soft, workplace-focused skills. The Electronic Utility Substation and Relay Technology Program is another two-year degree program created in tandem with Duke Energy. Intense competition exists amongst employers for these program graduates, with the majority of graduates fielding multiple job offers upon graduation.[xxviii].

AdmitHub and GEAR UP NC

In addition to North Carolina community college examples, we also explored other postsecondary enrollment efforts. We hoped to understand if other North Carolina statewide postsecondary systems, such as the UNC system, have focused on summer melt in a way transferrable to the community college context.

One such example of this is the GEAR UP NC Virtual Reality App created for the UNC system. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a national, federally-funded initiative aimed at increasing the number of low-income and underrepresented students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. The program provides multi-year grants to states and partnerships for services at high-poverty middle and high schools.[xxix] GEAR UP NC Virtual Reality is a free mobile application (app) downloadable on student’s cellphones. It brings the college tour experience to students via virtual reality. The app currently allows students to tour 16 UNC campuses virtually. The creation of the application came through a partnership among the UNC system, GEAR UP NC, AdmitHub, and SeeBoundless. A $450,000 grant from GEAR UP served as the initial funding to kickstart the project. [xxx]

The GEAR UP NC app allows students to tour campuses via 360-degree video. The app places them in an immersive experience of what it would be like to be on campus. Students are also able to chat with an automated chatbot powered by AdmitHub in order to ask questions, understand how to apply for financial aid, and learn more about student life on campus.

According to Alexis Jones, Innovation Project Manager at the UNC system, high school students can often find sending emails intimidating. A more informal method of communication – such as chatbots – can ultimately be more useful and comfortable for students than just giving them an email address to reach out to.[xxxi] The app can assist students with a variety of topics, beyond just addressing enrollment deadlines and requirements. It can walk students and their families through available programs, paths of study, and financial aid opportunities specific to North Carolina.

The VR campus tour component of the app is perhaps less relevant to community colleges because the majority of their students live geographically close to their community college and can likely visit in person. Nevertheless, the cohort chatbot model, which aggregates systemwide resources and frequently asked questions, could be transferred to the community college system. This GEAR UP NC and AdmitHub partnership may present a strong framework and precedent for implementing broader-scale automated chatbot technology to address summer melt within North Carolina community colleges.


Improve data systems

Better interoperability between the K-12 and community college data systems is essential to addressing the summer melt problem. It will allow leaders to track student cohorts over time, identify trends, and more accurately identify issues as well as affected populations. With this information, leaders can target summer melt reduction interventions and measure the impact of implemented programs.    

A fully-functioning state longitudinal data system that connects K-12 student data with community college student data is being finalized and the data connection process is being refined. In 2012, NC DPI received a $3.6 million grant to create a state longitudinal data system that would track students from early childhood through K-12 and postsecondary education and into the workforce. Grant partners on this project include NC DPI, the University of North Carolina system, North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Labor and Economic Analysis Division at the NC Department of Commerce.

This spurred the creation of NC SchoolWorks, a data system spanning all major education systems and the workforce. The grant, however, expired in June 2017. The General Assembly has recently funded two positions within DPI to continue support of the system. Yet the system is still not open to the public. It also continues to need additional data process refinements.[xxxii]

Continued financial support for staff members, either at DPI or another state agency, to continue building out the system is crucial. When this system is fully operational, both DPI and NCCCS will have the data required to measure and track summer melt over time. This data resource ownership can then serve as the foundation for future interventions and impact evaluation efforts.

Invest in student support services

A pilot program should invest in AI chatbots for a cohort of 10-12 North Carolina community colleges. Technology will never replace people in student services. Yet it can act as a powerful force multiplier in a human resource intensive field, as the example of Lenoir Community College proves. Chatbots in particular free up time for counselors to speak with students who most need it.

AdmitHub offers the most expertise and continues to partner with university researchers testing summer melt and persistence interventions (See Appendix C for additional information). The AdmitHub service costs approximately $25-60,000 per school.[xxxiii] This includes a dedicated support team, web services integration, and student data integration. While managing the information that goes into the chatbot requires dedicated time, a cohort could share the costs in both funding and personnel. A regional coordinator can alleviate some of the dedicated manpower costs. Implementing with a cohort of community colleges may dramatically reduce these costs.

We also recommend investing in career matching software like the CareerCoach at Richmond Community College. The unique challenge of understanding the value of community college education programs can be overcome by helping students identify their strengths and interests and linking those to jobs in their area. Many students may feel more comfortable utilizing software as a starting point for identifying potential career paths, this can be a useful first step and connector. 

We further recommend implementing these software services in conjunction with rigorously-designed research studies to quantify their impacts. This research could help justify long-term funding, programs, and legislation, which we know are significant constraints for community colleges

Promote regional cooperation

Community colleges within the same geographic region need to share more resources and knowledge. With regional cooperation, we see two main opportunities: 1) inter-community college cooperation and 2) community college and business partnerships. Community colleges with limited budgets for student support services can partner with one another to share the financial burdens of technological costs. Significant cost saving opportunities exist both for initial investments and in sharing manpower costs.

Community colleges and local businesses also need to expand partnerships. This cooperation keeps community college programs relevant, and also helps students see the value of community college certificates and degrees. By connecting community college programs and coursework to local workforce needs, community colleges will be better equipped to address emerging labor market needs. Programs like those at Richmond Community College, such as the Electric Lineman and Electronic Utility Substation and Relay Technology Program, are role models for how to best partner with local businesses to train skilled workers in emerging fields. Other community colleges should implement similar programs based on their specific local context. As technology, pharmaceutical, and healthcare fields rapidly change, community colleges will continue to fill labor market needs if they remain flexible.


[i] National Center for Education Statistics, “What are the New Back to School Statistics for 2018?” Fast Facts Enrollment; available from <>; accessed 16 FEB 19. 

[ii] Benjamin L. Castleman and Lindsay C. Page, “A Trickle or a Torrent? Understanding the Extent of Summer “Melt” Among College-Intending High School Graduates,” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 95(1), March 2014, 202-220; available from <>; accessed 02 FEB 19.

[iii] Patrick Gill,” Summer Melt at Community Colleges: Effective Intervention Strategies for Research,” 2014; available from <>; accessed 12 March 2019.

[iv] Ben Castleman et al., “SDP Summer Melt Handbook,” Harvard University: Center for Education Policy Research, 4-6; available from <>; accessed 26 JAN 2019.

[v]Benjamin L. Castleman and Lindsay C. Page, “A Trickle or a Torrent? Understanding the Extent of Summer “Melt” Among College-Intending High School Graduates,” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 95(1), March 2014, 202-220; available from <>; accessed 02 FEB 19.

Lindsay Page and Hunter Gelbach “How an Artificially Intelligent Virtual Assistant Helps Students Navigate the Road to College,” AERA Open, October-December 2017, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 1 –12; available from <>; accessed 02 FEB 19.

Ben Castleman et al., “Stemming the Tide of Summer Melt: An Experimental Study of the Effects of Post-High School Summer Intervention on Low-Income Students’ College Enrollment,” available from <>; accessed 02 FEB 19.

[vi] Page “How an Artificially Intelligent Virtual Assistant Helps Students Navigate the Road to College.”

[vii] “Community College Boosts Student Enrollment & Engagement with AI,” AdmitHub, 27 March 2019.

[viii] Benjamin L. Castleman and Lindsay C. Page, “A Trickle or a Torrent? Understanding the Extent of Summer “Melt” Among College-Intending High School Graduates,” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 95(1), March 2014, 202-220; available from <>; accessed 02 FEB 19

Rebecca Tippett and Jessica Stanford, “North Carolina’s Leaky Educational Pipeline and Pathways to 60% Postsecondary Attainment,” Carolina Demography, Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, February 2019, 46.

[ix] Rebecca Tippett and Jessica Stanford, North Carolina’s Leaky Educational Pipeline & Pathways to 60% Postsecondary Attainment: Report for the John M. Belk Endowment, 2019; Chapel Hill, NC: Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rebecca Tippett, Leaky Educational Pipeline, 1-4.

[x] Tippett, Leaky Educational Pipeline, 46.

[xi] Carolina Demography, “Past, Present, and Future: Demographic Change and North Carolina’s Community College System,” Chapel Hill, NC:  Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, March 2018, 1-4.

[xii] Tippett, Leaky Educational Pipeline, 10.

[xiii] Rupen R. Fofaria, “Community College Enrollment Challenges Are a Problem for Communities and the State,” EducationNC, 4 March 2019.

[xiv] Elka Torpey, “Education Pays,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2019; available from < >; accessed 18 March 2019.

[xv] Tippett, Leaky Educational Pipeline, 9.

[xvi] North Carolina Community College System Representatives, Phone Interview Conducted 18, 19, 20 March 2019.

[xvii] “NC Commerce: Workforce Resources”. 2019. Nccommerce.Com. Accessed April 10 2019.

[xviii] “NC Commerce: Workforce Innovation And Opportunity Act”. 2019. Nccommerce.Com. Accessed April 10 2019.

[xix] “HB 805 (Edition 5)”. 2019. Ncleg.Net. Accessed April 19 2019.

[xx] “NC Certified Career Pathways.” Nccertifiedcareerpathways.Com. available from Accessed April 6 2019.

[xxi]Annual Report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee on NCWorks Career Coach Program. Nccommunitycolleges.Edu. available from Accessed April 6 2019.

[xxii] “Facts and Figures 2015-16”. Dpi.State.Nc.Us. Accessed April 6 2019.

[xxiii] Lenoir Community College Representatives, Phone Interview Conducted 5 March 2019.

[xxiv] Dr. John Paul Black, Electronic Interview Conducted 8 April 2019.

[xxv] Lenoir Community College Representatives, Phone Interview Conducted 5 March 2019.

[xxvi] Dr. John Paul Black, Electronic Interview Conducted 8 April 2019.

[xxvii] “Online Resources | Richmond Community College”. 2019. Richmondcc.Edu. available from Accessed April 6 2019.

[xxviii] Dale McIniss, Phone Interview Conducted 25March 2019.

[xxix] “Gaining Early Awareness And Readiness For Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)”. 2019. Www2.Ed.Gov. Accessed April 7 2019.

[xxx] “Can Campus Tours In Virtual Reality Improve College Access? – Edsurge News”. 2019. Edsurge. Accessed April 7 2019.

[xxxi] “Can Campus Tours In Virtual Reality Improve College Access? – Edsurge News”. 2019. Edsurge. Accessed April 7 2019.

[xxxii] Sorrells, Analisa. 2019. “Edexplainer: Education Data Systems In North Carolina – Educationnc”. Educationnc. Accessed April 7 2019.

[xxxiii] Interview with Andrew Magliozzi, CEO of AdmitHub. 12 April 2019.

Editor’s note: This student paper was prepared in 2019 in partial completion of the requirements for Public Policy 804, a course in the Masters of Public Policy Program at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. The research, analysis, and policy alternatives contained in this paper are the work of the student team that authored the document. They do not represent the official or unofficial views of the Sanford School of Public Policy or of Duke University. Without the specific permission of its authors, this paper may not be used or cited for any purpose other than to inform the client organization about the subject matter.

Daniel Adams

Daniel Adams is a dual degree Master of Public Policy student at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University School of Law. Prior to coming to Duke, he traveled abroad for two years. He volunteered while traveling to raise awareness on our impacts to the environment. Adams earned his B.A. in Business Administration from North Carolina Central University and looks to focus his studies on the intersection of race and education.

Hannah Bartlebaugh

Hannah Bartlebaugh is a Master of Public Policy student at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Prior to coming to Duke, she worked at YouthTruth, a nonprofit focused on incorporating student feedback into education and philanthropic decision-making. She also completed a year of service with AmeriCorps. Hannah earned her BA in Political Science and Psychology from UC Santa Barbara. She is particularly interested in K-12 school finance and accountability structures as well as the intersections of the nonprofit, philanthropic, and public sectors.

LeAndre Blakeney

Le’Andre Blakeney is pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. He earned a B.A. in History from North Carolina Central University and a M.A. in Christian Studies from Duke’s Divinity School. He became an intern Park Ranger for the National Park Service at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Thereafter, he was a member of AmeriCorps as an apprentice at the North Carolina Council on Economic Education. Blakeney attempts to spend his time engaging in activist work. He loves food, music, Duke Basketball, and watching CNN.

Kelly Ann McCarty

Kelly Ann McCarty is a Master of Public Policy student at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Prior to coming to Duke, she served for 10 years as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. Over her career, she completed five deployments and found a passion for problem-solving and leadership. McCarty earned her B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point and focuses her current studies on the intersection of national security and technology.