Session Recap: Drivers of College Application, Enrollment, and Major
November 8, 2014 10:30 AM
By Kelly Ochs Rosinger, University of Georgia
Researchers in this session drew on state and national data to examine factors that influence students’ applications, enrollment, and major decisions.
Tim Sass, Georgia State University, presented his paper Understanding the STEM Pipeline. This study used data from the state of Florida to demonstrate the leakages for black and Hispanic students that occur before students enroll in college that influence and contribute to gaps in STEM course taking by race.
Oh Brother, Where Start Thou? The Impact of Older Siblings’ College Choices on Younger Siblings’ College Choices, presented by Joshua Goodman, Harvard University, used national data from more than one million students. The authors of this study found that younger siblings tend to go to similar types of colleges (e.g., selective, four-year) as an older sibling.
Lisa Schulkind, University of North Carolina, discussed Missed Signals: The Effect of ACT College-Readiness Measures on Postsecondary Decisions. This study examined data from the state of Colorado, where students are required to take the ACT exam, to determine how information students received about their college readiness based on exam scores shaped enrollment decisions. Using a regression discontinuity design for students just above and below the cutoff of “college ready” as determined by ACT, the researchers found that information students received about their college readiness based on exam scores had little effect on college enrollment. The authors found some evidence of resorting in college enrollment for students who received free- and reduced-price lunch based on college readiness as determined by English ACT scores.
Sandra Black, University of Texas at Austin, then presented You Have to Apply Yourself: College Application Behavior and Racial Gaps in Enrollment, which used data from the state of Texas to examine racial differences in college application behavior. Because the top 10 percent of Texas students in their high school class are guaranteed admission to public higher education institutions (including flagship universities) in the state, the researchers were able to study the application behavior of students who knew they would be admitted to college if they applied. Despite this guaranteed admission program, the researchers found differences in application behavior for black and Hispanic students.
The four papers presented in this session highlight the many influences that shape students’ educational decisions, including race and ethnicity, siblings’ educational decisions, and in limited cases, information about college readiness.