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Applying early decision: Student and college incentives and outcomes

Author

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  • Chapman, Gabrielle
  • Dickert-Conlin, Stacy

Abstract

Colleges’ early decision (ED) admission policies require accepted students to commit to attend the school without comparing outside options. With data from two liberal arts schools we find evidence that students with higher willingness and ability to pay and lower measured ability levels are more likely to apply ED. Applying ED raises the probability of acceptance by 40 percentage points. We address the potential selection of students into ED, including estimating an upper bound of 46 percentage points following Altonji, Elder, and Taber (2005). One college appears to use the ED process to screen applicants with high SAT scores and female applicants, thereby avoiding the potential adverse selection of applicants in the regular decision process. Finally, even conditional on higher socioeconomic status and other observable characteristics, applying ED is correlated with higher financial aid packages, perhaps because the college's financial aid resources are higher earlier in the admission process.

Suggested Citation

  • Chapman, Gabrielle & Dickert-Conlin, Stacy, 2012. "Applying early decision: Student and college incentives and outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 749-763.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:749-763
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.05.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sam-Ho Lee, 2009. "Jumping The Curse: Early Contracting With Private Information In University Admissions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 1-38, February.
    2. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    3. Roth, Alvin E & Xing, Xiaolin, 1994. "Jumping the Gun: Imperfections and Institutions Related to the Timing of Market Transactions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 992-1044, September.
    4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman, 1984. "Optimal Financial Aid Policies for a Selective University," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(2), pages 202-230.
    5. Kim, Matthew, 2010. "Early decision and financial aid competition among need-blind colleges and universities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 410-420, June.
    6. Monks, James, 2000. "The academic performance of legacies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 99-104, April.
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    8. Christopher Avery & Jonathan Levin, 2010. "Early Admissions at Selective Colleges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2125-2156, December.
    9. Robinson, Michael & Monks, James, 2005. "Making SAT scores optional in selective college admissions: a case study," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 393-405, August.
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    11. Rothstein, J.M.Jesse M., 2004. "College performance predictions and the SAT," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 297-317.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Wei-Cheng & Kao, Yi-Cheng, 2014. "Simultaneous screening and college admissions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 296-298.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Early decision; College admission;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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