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Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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 119-146, Fall.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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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," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 119-146.
    2. Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2015. "Does Immigration Affect Whether US Natives Major in Science and Engineering?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 79-108.
    3. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2010. "The Rug Rat Race," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, pages 129-199.
    4. 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.
    5. repec:hrv:hksfac:34298861 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:jeborg:v:139:y:2017:i:c:p:152-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:223-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Takao Kato & Chad Sparber, 2013. "Quotas and Quality: The Effect of H-1B Visa Restrictions on the Pool of Prospective Undergraduate Students from Abroad," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 109-126, March.
    10. W. Bentley MacLeod & Evan Riehl & Juan E. Saavedra & Miguel Urquiola, 2017. "The Big Sort: College Reputation and Labor Market Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 223-261, July.
    11. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2015. "College Access, Initial College Choice and Degree Completion," Working Paper Series rwp14-030, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    12. Estrada, Ricardo, 2016. "The Effect of the Increasing Demand for Elite Schools on Stratification," Economics Working Papers MWP2016/02, European University Institute.
    13. Liu, Liqun & Neilson, William S., 2011. "High scores but low skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 507-516, June.
    14. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:630-657 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Sevilla, Almudena & Borra, Cristina, 2015. "Parental Time Investments in Children: The Role of Competition for University Places in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 9168, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. 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.
    17. Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith, "undated". "Access to Four-Year Public Colleges and Degree Completion," Working Paper 175226, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    18. Estrada, Ricardo, 2016. "The Effect of the Increasing Demand for Elite Schools on Stratification," Economics Working Papers MWP2016/02, European University Institute.
    19. Carpenter, Kathie, 2015. "Childhood studies and orphanage tourism in Cambodia," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 15-27.

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    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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