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The full extent of student-college academic undermatch

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  • Smith, Jonathan
  • Pender, Matea
  • Howell, Jessica

Abstract

This paper quantifies the extent of student-college “academic undermatch,” which occurs when a student's academic credentials permit them access to a college or university that is more selective than the postsecondary alternative they actually choose. Using a nationally representative dataset, we find that 41 percent of students undermatch in their postsecondary choice. We also find that academic undermatch affects students with a range of academic credentials, but is more common among those students from low socioeconomic status families, who live in rural areas, and whose parents have no college degree. Finally, we show that between the 1992 and 2004 high school senior cohorts, academic undermatch has decreased by nearly 20 percent. The decrease is partially due to students being more likely to apply to a matched college.

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Jonathan & Pender, Matea & Howell, Jessica, 2013. "The full extent of student-college academic undermatch," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 247-261.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:32:y:2013:i:c:p:247-261
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.11.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2012. "Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 375-424, September.
    2. Audrey Light & Wayne Strayer, 2000. "Determinants of College Completion: School Quality or Student Ability?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 299-332.
    3. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
    4. Webber, Douglas A. & Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 2010. "Do expenditures other than instructional expenditures affect graduation and persistence rates in American higher education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 947-958, December.
    5. Pallais, Amanda & Turner, Sarah, 2006. "Opportunities for Low–Income Students at Top Colleges and Universities: Policy Initiatives and the Distribution of Students," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(2), pages 357-386, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Long, Mark C., 2008. "College quality and early adult outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 588-602, October.
    8. 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.
    9. Long, M.C.Mark C., 2004. "College applications and the effect of affirmative action," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 319-342.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational economics; College choice; Postsecondary education; Mismatch; Undermatch;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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