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The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students

Author

Listed:
  • Hoxby, Caroline M.

    (Stanford University)

  • Avery, Christopher

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

We show that the vast majority of low-income high achievers do not apply to any selective college. This is despite the fact that selective institutions typically cost them less, owing to generous financial aid, than the two-year and nonselective four-year institutions to which they actually apply. Moreover, low-income high achievers have no reason to believe they will fail at selective institutions since those who do apply are admitted and graduate at high rates. We demonstrate that low-income high achievers' application behavior differs greatly from that of their high-income counterparts with similar achievement. The latter generally follow experts' advice to apply to several "peer," a few "reach," and a couple of "safety" colleges. We separate low-income high achievers into those whose application behavior is similar to that of their high-income counterparts ("achievement-typical") and those who apply to no selective institutions ("income-typical"). We show that income-typical students are not more disadvantaged than the achievementtypical students. However, in contrast to the achievement-typical students, income-typical students come from districts too small to support selective public high schools, are not in a critical mass of fellow high achievers, and are unlikely to encounter a teacher who attended a selective college. We demonstrate that widely used policies--college admissions recruiting, campus visits, college mentoring programs--are likely to be ineffective with income-typical students. We suggest that effective policies must depend less on geographic concentration of high achievers.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoxby, Caroline M. & Avery, Christopher, 2015. "The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students," Research Papers 3323, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:3323
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christopher Avery & Caroline Minter Hoxby, 2004. "Do and Should Financial Aid Packages Affect Students' College Choices?," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 239-302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2012. "Does generosity beget generosity? Alumni giving and undergraduate financial aid," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 890-907.
    3. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Andrew Smith, 2017. "Determinants of the Match between Student Ability and College Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 45-66.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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