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Heterogeneous Paths Through College: Detailed Patterns and Relationships with Graduation and Earnings

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  • Rodney Andrews
  • Jing Li
  • Michael Lovenheim

Abstract

A considerable fraction of college students and bachelor's degree recipients enroll in multiple postsecondary institutions. Despite this fact, there is scant research that examines the nature of the paths – both the number and types of institutions – that students take to obtain a bachelor's degree or through the higher education system more generally. We also know little about enrollment in multiple institutions of varying quality relates to postgraduate life outcomes. We use a unique panel data set from Texas that allows us to both examine in detail the paths that students take towards a bachelor's degree and estimate how multiple institution enrollment is related to degree completion and subsequent earnings. We show that the paths to a bachelor's degree are diverse and that earnings and BA receipt vary systematically with these paths. Our results call attention to the importance of developing a more complete understanding of why students transfer and what causal role transferring has on the returns to postsecondary educational investment.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19935.

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Date of creation: Feb 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19935

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  1. Long, Mark C., 2010. "Changes in the returns to education and college quality," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 338-347, June.
  2. 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.
  3. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric R. Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1999. "Does It Pay to Attend an Elite Private College? Cross-Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Type on Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 104-123.
  4. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  5. Josh Kinsler & Ronni Pavan, 2011. "Family Income and Higher Education Choices: The Importance of Accounting for College Quality," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 453 - 477.
  6. Rodney J. Andrews & Jing Li & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2012. "Quantile Treatment Effects of College Quality on Earnings: Evidence from Administrative Data in Texas," NBER Working Papers 18068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. Lockwood Reynolds, C., 2012. "Where to attend? Estimating the effects of beginning college at a two-year institution," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 345-362.
  9. Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2012. "The Effect of Housing Wealth on College Choice: Evidence from the Housing Boom," NBER Working Papers 18075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
  11. Mark Hoekstra, 2009. "The Effect of Attending the Flagship State University on Earnings: A Discontinuity-Based Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 717-724, November.
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