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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 region, 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15272.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Publication status: published as John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 119-46, Fall.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15272

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  1. Courant, Paul N. & McPherson, Michael & Resch, Alexandra M., 2006. "The Public Role in Higher Education," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 59(2), pages 291-318, June.
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  7. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 119-46, Fall.
  8. Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance J. & Todd, Petra E., 2006. "Earnings Functions, Rates of Return and Treatment Effects: The Mincer Equation and Beyond," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  9. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Kato, Takao & Sparber, Chad, 2010. "Quotas and Quality: The Effect of H-1B Visa Restrictions on the Pool of Prospective Undergraduate Students from Abroad," IZA Discussion Papers 4951, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Valerie Ramey & Garey Ramey, 2009. "The Rug Rat Race," 2009 Meeting Papers 431, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. 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.
  4. Liu, Liqun & Neilson, William S., 2011. "High scores but low skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 507-516, June.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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