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Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition

Author

Listed:
  • 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 region, 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," NBER Working Papers 15272, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15272
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. 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.
    5. Caroline M. Hoxby & Bridget Terry, 1999. "Explaining Rising Income and wage Inequality Among the College Educated," NBER Working Papers 6873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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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, vol. 23(4), pages 119-146, Fall.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Liu, Liqun & Neilson, William S., 2011. "High scores but low skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 507-516, June.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 2010. "The Rug Rat Race," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 129-199.
    8. 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.
    9. Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith, "undated". "Access to Four-Year Public Colleges and Degree Completion," Working Paper 175226, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    10. Carpenter, Kathie, 2015. "Childhood studies and orphanage tourism in Cambodia," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 15-27.
    11. repec:eee:jeborg:v:139:y:2017:i:c:p:152-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Estrada, Ricardo, 2016. "The Effect of the Increasing Demand for Elite Schools on Stratification," Economics Working Papers MWP2016/02, European University Institute.
    13. repec:spr:reihed:v:59:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s11162-017-9468-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:hrv:hksfac:34298861 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. 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.
    16. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:630-657 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. 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).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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