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A Quality-Preserving Increase in Four-Year College Attendance: Evidence from NLS-72 and ELS:2002

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Author Info

  • Robert B. Archibald

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

  • David H. Feldman

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

  • Peter McHenry

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

Abstract

A common criticism of attempts to increase college going in the United States is that marginal students will be ill-prepared and likely to fail without much gain. This argument assumes that the process that matches students to colleges is efficient in the sense that the most capable high school graduates go to college and the least capable do not. We argue using the NLS-72 and ELS:2002 data sets that the matching process is not efficient, although it has improved over time. As college attendance rates increased substantially between 1972 and 2004, average preparedness of four-year college-goers did not decrease. Most of the increase in four-year college attendance over time came from high-achieving (well-prepared) high school students attending at higher rates. Attendance rate increases at two-year colleges were more evenly spread across the spectrum of high school achievement. We use multinomial logit models to demonstrate that a measure of likely success (GPA) became more predictive of college attendance over time, while other student characteristics such as race and parents’ education became less predictive. These findings are consistent with a movement toward a more efficient matching process between students and colleges, and we note that further improvements remain possible.

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File URL: http://economics.wm.edu/wp/cwm_wp147.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 147.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 13 Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:147

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Keywords: higher education; human capital; college attendance;

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  1. John Bound & Michael Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2009. "Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources," NBER Working Papers 15566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," NBER Working Papers 13527, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Caroline M. Hoxby & Christopher Avery, 2012. "The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students," NBER Working Papers 18586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Goldin, Claudia & Kuziemko, Ilyana & Katz, Lawrence, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Scholarly Articles 2962611, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Andrew Smith, 2013. "The Determinants of Mismatch Between Students and Colleges," NBER Working Papers 19286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2011. "Changes in Postsecondary Choices by Ability and Income: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 70 - 109.
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