For many first-generation college students, the hardest part of earning a college degree isn’t getting accepted to a higher education institution. It’s completing each step of the education journey that comes after receiving the acceptance letter—sometimes even following through with the very first step of enrollment.
In episode 3 of Education Empowered, our host, Jason Belland, talks with Founder and CEO of Beyond 12 Alexandra (Alex) Bernadotte. She may have been a star student, but she almost dropped out of her first year at Dartmouth. With the help of mentors, peers, and family, she was able to persist and graduate on time, but she says so many students with similar backgrounds don’t have the same result.
“While they believe they are prepared for the road ahead, the statistics tell us otherwise. The vast majority of our first-generation students don’t graduate,” she tells Jason.
Beyond 12 combines technology with human coaching in order to significantly influence the number of students from under-resourced communities who graduate from the nation’s colleges and who translate those degrees into meaningful employment.
“That combination of technology and human coaching allows us to impact not just the students with whom we work directly through coaching but also the institutions in our student stories—the high schools from which they graduated, the after school programs or the scholarship organizations that provided additional support to help them get in, and then the colleges and universities in which they are enrolled,” Alex explains.
They work with both sides of the college transition—K-12 and higher ed institutions—so student success becomes a shared responsibility, and the occurrence of “summer melt” decreases.
Throughout the episode, Alex gives some excellent anecdotes of real stories from their partners and how Beyond 12 has offered low-cost solutions to ensure students are supported during the transition between high school graduation and day one of their college education.
Predictive and prescriptive tools for student success
By collecting and analyzing data using a platform built on Salesforce, Beyond 12 coaches—most of them first-gen college graduates themselves—can easily recognize patterns and provide prescriptive support throughout the entire student lifecycle.
“We haven’t just built a predictive analytics tool, we’ve also built a prescriptive tool,” Alex says. “It’s really helping our coaches make meaning of the data by prescribing a set of interventions that [schools] can use to be able to impact specific outcomes for individual students.”
In many cases, they are able to identify “small” problems and simple solutions, such as students missing the enrollment step simply because institutions were sending the final enrollment instructions to the students’ new .edu email, and the students weren’t checking it.
“It’s exciting that we can make a big difference by doing a lot of small things really well,” Alex says.
Big plans for making a big difference
By using technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), to amplify human impact, Beyond 12 can achieve the scale of a technology product without losing the empathy of a human. In fact, Beyond 12 currently supports about 70,000 students annually, with coaches assigned to 125 to 150 students at a time. They aim to work with over a million students by 2025.
“We’re really excited about the power of combining tech and humans,” Alex says, adding that they’re also revamping their coaching curriculum so they can reach even more students and make a bigger impact.
“It’s an exciting shift that we’re seeing with so many of our customers—a focus on ‘How do we elevate everybody here and help everyone succeed?’ I’m sure many schools have taken inspiration from your work,” Jason says.
How to help
Alex says you can help by becoming an education partner with Beyond 12. She also encourages listeners to become a mentor to any first-generation college students they might know.
“See what role you can play in opening doors and providing direction,” Alex says. “It makes a huge impact.”
Listen to the full Education Empowered Podcast episode with Alex of Beyond 12 today: