The Pell Institute publishes research and analyses that address equal educational opportunity, particularly the outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled students. Additional publications include occasional papers, policy briefs, and an electronic newsletter.

Promising Practices Supporting Low-Income, First-Generation Students at DeVry University (.pdf)

Citing a lack of independent research on for-profit education institutions, The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Education conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of DeVry University’s academic and support services for low-income, first-generation college students. The study’s findings show nontraditional students at DeVry University receive high levels of personal and academic support, which similar institutions could look to replicate.

The goal of this study, Promising Practices Supporting Low-Income, First-Generation Students at DeVry University, was to catalogue the academic and social support services offered at one of the nation’s largest proprietary universities, and benchmark them against similar programs designed to support individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. According to The Pell Institute’s previous research in other sectors, effective support services can have a positive impact on low-income, first-generation college students, helping them to persist in their studies and graduate.

The Pell Institute highlighted the following three guiding strategies behind the practices at DeVry as key to their support for these students:

  • Approaching support services for students as customer service
  • Providing early, in-depth, on-campus student opportunities
  • Establishing and sustaining a shared sense of community

The report notes, “These three overarching categories are distinctive because of the way in which the dynamic confluence of corporate business values and higher education practices come together to inform DeVry’s educational culture.”

Among the essential elements of DeVry’s support services cited by Pell are: a one-stop shop advising model, an early intervention warning system, degree progress tracking, academic success centers, and career and job placement services. The Pell report also describes DeVry’s many programs offering early, in-depth, on-campus student opportunities for high school students, such as the DeVry University Advantage Academy. In addition to their study findings, Pell made several recommendations on ways DeVry could enhance its practices to serve low-income, first-generation students, including: expanding the use of disaggregated data to track student outcomes, clarifying and reconsidering rigid attendance tracking policies, and better acknowledging the contributions of faculty and staff that excel in supporting these students. Pell also recommends that DeVry establish greater transparency around student services and outcomes so that the supportive practices observed by researchers are more apparent to consumers.