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Student Portfolios and the College Admissions Problem

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  • Hector Chade
  • Gregory Lewis
  • Lones Smith

Abstract

We develop a decentralized Bayesian model of college admissions with two ranked colleges, heterogeneous students, and two realistic match frictions: students find it costly to apply to college, and college evaluations of their applications are uncertain. Students thus face a portfolio choice problem in their application decision, while colleges choose admissions standards that act like market-clearing prices. Enrollment at each college is affected by the standards at the other college through student portfolio reallocation. In equilibrium, student-college sorting may fail: weaker students sometimes apply more aggressively, and the weaker college might impose higher standards. Applying our framework, we analyse affirmative action, showing how it induces minority applicants to construct their application portfolios as if they were majority students of higher caliber.

Suggested Citation

  • Hector Chade & Gregory Lewis & Lones Smith, 2014. "Student Portfolios and the College Admissions Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 971-1002.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:81:y:2014:i:3:p:971-1002
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdu003
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    1. Groen, Jeffrey A. & White, Michelle J., 2004. "In-state versus out-of-state students: the divergence of interest between public universities and state governments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1793-1814, August.
    2. Christopher Avery & Jonathan Levin, 2010. "Early Admissions at Selective Colleges," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2125-2156, December.
    3. Caroline Hoxby & Christopher Avery, 2013. "The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 1-65.
    4. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2006. "Admission, Tuition, and Financial Aid Policies in the Market for Higher Education," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 885-928, July.
    5. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2009. "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Christopher Avery & Thomas J. Kane, 2004. "Student Perceptions of College Opportunities. The Boston COACH Program," NBER Chapters,in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 355-394 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Christopher N. Avery & Mark E. Glickman & Caroline M. Hoxby & Andrew Metrick, 2013. "A Revealed Preference Ranking of U.S. Colleges and Universities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 425-467.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magnac, Thierry, 2018. "Quels étudiants pour quelles universités ? Analyses empiriques de mécanismes d'allocation centralisée," TSE Working Papers 18-899, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    2. Lance Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2012. "Credit Constraints in Education," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 225-256, July.
    3. repec:oxf:wpaper:747 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Krishna, Kala & Tarasov, Alexander, 2013. "Affirmative Action: One Size Does Not Fit All," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 407, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    5. Carvalho, José-Raimundo & Magnac, Thierry & Xiong, Qizhou, 2016. "College Choice and the Selection of Mechanisms: A Structural Empirical Analysis," IWH Discussion Papers 3/2016, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    6. Horstschräer, Julia, 2012. "University rankings in action? The importance of rankings and an excellence competition for university choice of high-ability students," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1162-1176.
    7. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Sinan Sarpça & Holger Sieg & Melanie Zaber, 2017. "Market Power and Price Discrimination in the U.S. Market for Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 23360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Chao Fu, 2012. "Equilibrium Tuition, Applications, Admissions and Enrollment in the College Market," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    9. repec:eee:jetheo:v:176:y:2018:i:c:p:886-934 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Qingmin Liu & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite & Larry Samuelson, 2012. "Matching with Incomplete Information," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-032, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    11. Alonso, Ricardo, 2015. "Recruitment and Selection in Organizations," CEPR Discussion Papers 10662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. repec:eee:jetheo:v:176:y:2018:i:c:p:859-885 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Isa Hafalir & Rustamdjan Hakimov & Dorothea Kubler & Morimitsu Kurino, "undated". "College Admissions with Entrance Exams: Centralized versus Decentralized," GSIA Working Papers 2015-E7, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    14. Timothy N. Bond & George Bulman & Xiaoxiao Li & Jonathan Smith, 2018. "Updating Human Capital Decisions: Evidence from SAT Score Shocks and College Applications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(3), pages 807-839.
    15. Chao Fu, 2012. "Equilibrium Tuition, Applications, Admissions and Enrollment in the College Market," Working Papers 2012-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    16. Qingmin Liu & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite & Larry Samuelson, 2010. "Stable Matching with Incomplete Information, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-042, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 28 Oct 2012.
    17. Stylianos Despotakis & Isa Hafalir & R Ravi & Amin Sayedi, "undated". "Expertise in Online Markets," GSIA Working Papers 2015-E8, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    18. Kala Krishna & Alexander Tarasov, 2016. "Affirmative Action: One Size Does Not Fit All," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 215-252, May.
    19. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:493-544 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Christopher Avery & Soohyung Lee & Alvin E. Roth, 2014. "College Admissions as Non-Price Competition: The Case of South Korea," NBER Working Papers 20774, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Sinan Sarpça & Holger Sieg, 2013. "The U.S. Market for Higher Education: A General Equilibrium Analysis of State and Private Colleges and Public Funding Policies," NBER Working Papers 19298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Guerrieri, Veronica & Julien, Benoit & Kircher, Philipp & Wright, Randall, 2017. "Directed Search: A Guided Tour," CEPR Discussion Papers 12315, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    23. repec:eee:gamebe:v:108:y:2018:i:c:p:295-316 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Machado, Cecilia & Szerman, Christiane, 2016. "Centralized Admission and the Student-College Match," IZA Discussion Papers 10251, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    25. Bond, Timothy N. & Bulman, George & Li, Xiaoxiao & Smith, Jonathan, 2016. "Updated Expectations and College Application Portfolios," MPRA Paper 69317, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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