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Brian Holzman

Brian Holzman, Horace Duffy.

As states incorporate measures of college readiness into their accountability systems, school and district leaders need effective strategies to identify and support students at risk of not enrolling in college. Although there is an abundant literature on early warning indicators for high school dropout, fewer studies focus on indicators for college enrollment, especially those that are simple to calculate and easy for practitioners to use. This study explores three potential indicators of college readiness that educational leaders may consider using as part of an early warning system for college enrollment. Using district administrative data, our analysis shows that an indicator based on attendance, grades, and advanced course-taking is slightly more effective at predicting college enrollment than indicators based on course failures or standardized test scores. However, the performance of these indicators varies across different student demographic and socioeconomic subgroups, highlighting the limitations of these measures and pointing to areas where they may need to be supplemented with contextual information. Through event history analysis, we demonstrate that the ninth grade is a particularly challenging year for students, especially those who are male, Black, Hispanic, or economically disadvantaged. These results suggest that educational leaders ought to consider identifying and targeting students at risk of not attending college with additional resources and support during the freshman year of high school.

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Brian Holzman, Jeehee Han, Kalena E. Cortes, Bethany Lewis, Irina Chukhray.

This study investigates the role of college major choices in labor market outcomes, with a focus on racial minorities and immigrants. Drawing upon research on school-to-work linkages, we examine two measures, linkage, the connection between college majors and specific occupations in the labor market, and match, the alignment of workers’ occupations with their college majors. Analyzing data from the American Community Survey, 2013-2017, we show that linkage positively predicts earnings, particularly for workers in matched occupations, and negatively predicts unemployment. Notably, Black, Hispanic, and foreign-born workers in matched occupations benefit more from linkage strength than their White and U.S.-born counterparts. This advantage is more pronounced in states that are popular destinations for immigrants. Our findings suggest that earnings and unemployment disparities experienced among racial minorities and immigrants may diminish if they pursue majors closely tied to jobs in the labor market and secure jobs related to their college majors.

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Brian Holzman, Irina Chukhray, Courtney Thrash.

There is a growing debate in social science and education policy research on how to improve college access for high-performing students from low-income or first-generation backgrounds. While some studies suggest that providing information to students impacts college access, other studies do not and suggest that students may need more support in the college search and choice processes. Using a regression discontinuity research design with a layered randomized controlled trial, this study examines how information and personal assistance impact SAT scores, college application behaviors, and college enrollment decisions among low-income and first-generation high school students in a large urban school district. The results show that an intensive, multi-year college access program has large, positive effects on applying to a selective college, the number of applications submitted to selective colleges, and enrollment in a selective college. In contrast, a low-touch, general information packet intervention shows null effects on these outcomes. Implications for future nudge interventions and scaling up social capital interventions are discussed.

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