Uptake.org Tackles “Undermatching” With Onegoal

Uptake and OneGoal recently announced a partnership to build an app dedicated to helping students in low-income communities and first-generation college students find the right fit at a college or university.

Using the power of data science, the app will help these students explore college options and produce portfolios of suitable colleges based on academic fit, graduation rates, and preferences.

National research shows that nearly half of all students from low-income communities enroll in colleges with high dropout rates. These students could have attended more selective schools based on their academic qualifications. This is commonly known as “undermatching.”

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Students who undermatch are less likely to earn their college degrees due to the lack of programs and support. More selective schools tend to have more support for first-generation students, resulting in higher graduation rates.

Undermatching is a pervasive problem and it inhibits students from reaching their full educational and economic potential. Uptake sees it as a data problem–one that an app leveraging machine learning can help teachers and advisors solve.

Using insights from OneGoal and data from several other organizations, Uptake.org, our philanthropic and civic innovation arm, is building a powerful data platform behind the app to predict the best college choices for students from low-income communities.

The app uses cutting-edge algorithms to display a list of schools and the strength of the match at those schools, taking into account the likelihood of admission and graduation based on students’ inputs. Students can then filter their matching schools by preferences such as major, distance from home, and typical financial support from the university.

These inputs are used to build a portfolio of schools — ranked from “reach schools” to “safe schools” — where they are predicted to be accepted and eventually graduate. The app will also offer information on student diversity and graduation rates.

After a successful pilot with OneGoal, Uptake.org will engage multiple organizations already combatting the undermatching problem. We are already working with additional partners to optimize our data model. With cooperative data-sharing among these organizations, an open-source data tool such as this could help even more students as its knowledge base grows.

Uptake.org is looking for nonprofits, charter school networks, districts, and other institutions that focus on college success and that are interested in using this tool for their students, or integrating it into their existing systems. We plan on rolling out the app publicly later this year with the hope that as many students as possible have access to this resource.

If you’re an organization looking to partner, [email protected] or visit Uptake.org to learn more.