Pitt Transition Study

The Pitt Transition Study (PTS) consists of a 30-minute online activity designed to ease the transition to college for students in general and students from underrepresented backgrounds in particular.

Modeled after the College Transition Collaborative (of which Pitt is a member), the intervention attempts to provide students with a lens through which to view the challenges and adversity they are likely to face during the transition to college. This is accomplished through a combination of reflective writing, reading stories from older students, and direct messaging about what it is like to come to Pitt. The intervention teaches students that adversity during the transition is normal and surmountable. It is not unique to them, and they are not unusual if they experience homesickness, trouble with their classes, trouble making new friends, and the like. Students are recruited during the orientation period and complete the online study in roughly 30 minutes.

While we are still learning about the intervention, we have maintained a control group to use as a benchmark to gauge the intervention’s effectiveness. Students are randomly assigned to either the intervention or to a series of control activities that are designed to be helpful (e.g., help with navigating campus geography) but are devoid of the mindset messaging.

Below are the results for 2019-2020, with the intervention showing benefits among students who are most likely to experience belonging uncertainty (in this case, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students). 

First-year GPA performance chart