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Scholars disagree about the effect out-of-state university students have on potential in-state students. Despite paying a premium to attend state universities, researchers argue that out-of-state students may come at a cost to in-state students by negatively affecting academic quality or by crowding out in-state students. To study this relationship, we examine the effect of a 2016 policy at a highly ranked state flagship university that removed the limit on how many out-of-state students it could enroll. We find the policy caused an increase in out-of-state enrollment by around 29 percent and increased tuition revenue collected by the university by 47 percent. We argue that this revenue was used to fund increases in financial aid disbursed at the university, particularly to students from low-income households, indicating that out-of-state students cross-subsidize lower income students. We also fail to find evidence that this increase in out-of-state students had any effect on several measures of academic quality.
Complexity and uncertainty in the college application process contribute to longstanding racial and socioeconomic disparities in enrollment. We leverage a large-scale experiment that combines an early guarantee of college admission with a proactive nudge, fee waiver, and structural application simplification to test the impacts of emerging “direct admissions” policies on students’ college-going behaviors. Students in the intervention were 2.7 percentage points (or 12%) more likely to submit a college application, with larger impacts for racially minoritized, first-generation, and low-income students. Students were most responsive to automatic offers from larger, higher quality institutions on the application margin, but were not more likely to subsequently enroll. In the face of growing adoption, we show this low-cost, low-touch intervention can move the needle on important college-going behaviors but is insufficient alone to increase enrollment given other barriers to access, including the ability to pay for college.
College success requires students to engage with their institution academically and administratively. Missteps with required administrative processes can threaten student persistence and success. Through two experimental studies, we assessed the effectiveness of an artificially intelligent text-based chatbot that provided proactive outreach and support to college students to navigate administrative processes and use campus resources. In both the two-year and four-year college context, outreach was most effective when focused on discrete administrative processes such as filing financial aid forms or registering for courses which were acute, time-sensitive, and for which outreach could be targeted to those for whom it was relevant. In the context of replicating studies to better inform policy and programmatic decision making, we draw three core lessons regarding the effective use of nudge-type efforts to promote college success.
We document trends in racial-ethnic and gender diversity among faculty at selective public universities in the U.S. since the turn of the 21st century, overall and separately in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Racial-ethnic and gender diversity have broadly increased during the 21st century, and racial-ethnic diversity has increased at an accelerated rate since racial protests swept across college campuses during the 2015-16 academic year. When we analyze STEM and non-STEM fields separately, we find the share of female faculty is increasing faster in STEM fields, which is decreasing the cross-field gender diversity gap. In contrast, the share of Black faculty in STEM fields is increasing at a much lower rate than in non-STEM fields, exacerbating the cross-field gap in the Black faculty share. A similar pattern is present among Hispanic assistant professors.
Not all students who could benefit from college apply. With novel data on over 1.2 million high schoolers, we show that nearly 25% start but never complete a college application. We use descriptive techniques, data visualizations, and fixed effects models to explore this population of college-interested “non-submitters” to observe application behaviors; document differences across individual, school, and community contexts; and identify factors most predictive of non-submission. We find large gaps by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and education-career plans, as well as by school type and community features. We also find that early application tasks and engagement strongly predict non-submission. This study breaks ground for future research into this unexplored group and informs strategies to support those at risk of non-submission.
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.
We analyze the impact of COVID-19 diagnoses on student grades, retention, and on-time graduation at a large public university. Even though COVID-19 rarely causes major health complications for a typical university student, diagnosis and quarantine may cause non-trivial disruptions to learning. Using event study analysis, we find that a COVID-19 diagnosis decreased a student's term grade point average (GPA) modestly by 0.08 points in the semester of diagnosis without significant effects afterward. The results were the most pronounced for male students, individuals with face-to-face instruction, and those with higher GPAs before the pandemic. We do not find a significant increase in the incidence of failing or withdrawing from a course due to diagnosis. In addition, we find no general evidence that the diagnoses delayed graduation or significantly altered first-year retention. However, the University experienced significant grade inflation during the pandemic, which exceeded the estimated effects of any COVID-19 diagnoses.
With an urgency to leverage existing and emerging policy reforms to improve student outcomes by centering educational equity, this manuscript explores the critical role of policy implementation in higher education–specifically in community colleges. In doing so, we explore historical and contemporary approaches to higher education, highlighting how policy implementation often serves as an opportunity and barrier to educational equity. In the first half, we summarize the literature on policy implementation in higher education and weave together a conversation that centers on the importance of equity. Then, we highlight our Equity-Centered Policy Implementation Framework and its six tenets to consider in centering the role of the individual within the implementation process and how they influence what implementers can achieve with policy reform. These tenets are Identity Conscious, Implementation Imaginations, Institutional Complexity, Sociopolitical Context, Layered Reforms, and Leveraged for Educational Equity. Next, we share implementation stories that draw from our body of research conducted across two higher education contexts (i.e., the California Community Colleges and City University of New York [CUNY] community colleges) to showcase research-informed strategies and approaches to policy implementation that led to more robust and transformative equity-oriented implementation processes in community college.
I estimate the effect of attending an associate's degree in nursing program on nursing licensure. I use student-level academic data for all California community college students, matched to public records on all nursing licenses earned in the state. I produce causal estimates using random variation from admissions lotteries at a large nursing program. Enrolling in the program increases the probability of having an active nursing license by 59 percentage points within three years. By seven years the effect is smaller and not statistically significant. I estimate the value of a nursing license as approximately $5,000-$6,000 per year.