Sometimes a Little Nudge Goes a Long Way

By: Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab and Joshua Rudolph; The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice

  • Rates of visiting the ARC more than doubled from 22% of students in the selected population to 56%.
  • Connecting students to basic needs supports helped them make academic progress. Students in developmental education classes who ARC nudged to get support passed their dev ed classes 20% more often than students who did not receive nudges.
  • Nudging students is affordable for colleges with basic needs hubs. Nudging takes little time and money compared to other efforts. If your staff has some time and your college has basic needs supports, nudging is worth trying.

How to Nudge Students to Use Basic Needs Supports

  1. Make a list of basic needs supports your college offers. Every student has different needs. Make sure to include as many supports as possible in your email so students know there are supports for them.
  2. Find an event to tie the email to, like welcoming students back to campus.
  3. Write up your email and start nudging students!
  4. Text nudging is also an option — but we found good results from email nudges.
  • Personalized the emails, addressing them to students’ first names.
  • Tied content back to campus and campus events.
  • Described supports available to all students so students know they’re eligible.
  • Emphasized that many supports exist to counter concerns about resource scarcity.



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