In 2019, MDRC launched the Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS) project to improve college completion rates for traditionally underserved students — such as students from low-income backgrounds and students of color — at community and broad-access colleges. The SUCCESS program integrates multiple evidence-based components to help students stay enrolled and graduate, including proactive and holistic coaching, full-time enrollment, financial incentives and data-driven program management.

MDRC is evaluating the SUCCESS model using a randomized controlled trial at 11 higher education institutions in five states nationwide as of fall 2022. Little is known about how to serve adult learners best and improve their graduation rates. This brief highlights the experiences of adult students 25 years or older in the SUCCESS program at four institutions (Essex County College in New Jersey; Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo and Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, both in Indiana; and Stark State College in Ohio) and explores how SUCCESS supports adult learners and how it, and other programs, can do more.