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Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition

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  • John Bound
  • Brad Hershbein
  • Bridget Terry Long

Abstract

Gaining entrance to a four-year college or university, particularly a selective institution, has become increasingly competitive over the last several decades. We document this phenomenon and show how it has varied across different parts of the student ability distribution and across regions, with the most pronounced increases in competition being found among higher-ability students and in the Northeast. Additionally, we explore how the college preparatory behavior of high school seniors has changed in response to the growth in competition. We also discuss the theoretical implications of increased competition on longer-term measures of learning and achievement and attempt to test them empirically; the evidence and related literature, while limited, suggests little long-term benefit.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.23.4.119
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 119-46

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:23:y:2009:i:4:p:119-46

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.23.4.119
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  1. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
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  7. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2007. "Understanding the Increased Time to the Baccalaureate Degree," Discussion Papers 06-043, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," NBER Working Papers 15272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Caroline M. Hoxby, 1997. "How the Changing Market Structure of U.S. Higher Education Explains College Tuition," NBER Working Papers 6323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," NBER Working Papers 15272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Brad J. Hershbein, 2013. "Worker Signals among New College Graduates: The Role of Selectivity and GPA," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 13-190, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  3. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "The Rug Rat Race," NBER Working Papers 15284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hurwitz, Michael, 2011. "The impact of legacy status on undergraduate admissions at elite colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 480-492, June.
  5. Kato, Takao & Sparber, Chad, 2011. "Quotas and Quality: The Effect of H-1B Visa Restrictions on the Pool of Prospective Undergraduate Students from Abroad," Working Papers 2011-02, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
  6. Liu, Liqun & Neilson, William S., 2011. "High scores but low skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 507-516, June.

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