March 30, 2006
Insights on Financial Aid and College Access Interplay
1. Students make college-related decisions based on their perceptions of financial aid availability.
2. A high school's culture of preparation makes a difference in students' access to college and financial aid information.
3. Students lack accurate and timely information about financial aid.
4. Group seminars on financial aid information can be helpful but inadequate without pre-and post-individual follow-up sessions.
5. Peer counselors do not replace adult, expert advice about college and financial aid information.
6. Parents also lack information and knowledge about college and financial aid.
7. Even after applying for financial aid, many students require individualized, sustained support throughout the process.
March 23, 2006
Enrollment and Financial Aid Data Available
The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) has made available the Economic Diversity dataset, from public source campus-level data on student income, race and ethnicity, and student loan usage that can be compared over time and across institutions.
The dataset comprises data undergraduates at about 2,700 public two-year community colleges, public four-year, and private four-year colleges and universities. It includes data for the 2000-01 and 2003-04 academic years for about 1,000 community colleges, 600 public four-year, and 1,100 private four-year colleges and universities.
This dataset includes variables on enrollments, institutional characteristics, financial aid (type and amount), and family background (income and ethnicity).
March 07, 2006
Meritocracy & Gatekeepers
Espenshade, T.; Hale, L. & Ch. Chung. (2005) The Frog Pond Revisited: High School Academic Context, Class Rank, and Elite College Admission.Sociology of Education, V. 78, n. 4, October 2005, pp. 269-293.
In this article, the authors test a "frog-pond" model of elite college admission proposed by Attewell, operationalizing high school academic context as the secondary school-average SAT score and number of Advanced Placement tests per high school senior. Data on more than 45,000 applications to three elite universities show that a high school's academic environment has a negative effect on college admission, controlling for individual students' scholastic ability. A given applicant's chances of being accepted are reduced if he or she comes from a high school with relatively more highly talented students, that is, if the applicant is a small frog in a big pond. Direct evidence on high school class rank produces similar findings. A school's reputation or prestige has a counterbalancing positive effect on college admission. Institutional gatekeepers are susceptible to context effects, but the influence of school variables is small relative to the characteristics of individual students. The authors tie the findings to prior work on meritocracy in college admission and to the role played by elite education in promoting opportunity or reproducing inequality, and they speculate on the applicability of frog-pond models in areas beyond elite college admission.
College Pathways - Social Class Differences
Goldrick-Rab, Sara (2006). Following Their Every Move: An Investigation of Social-Class Differences in College Pathways. Sociology of Education, V. 79, n. 1, January 2006, pp. 61-79
As more Americans enter college than ever before, their pathways through the broadly differentiated higher education system are changing. Movement in, out, and among institutions now characterizes students' attendance patterns—half of all undergraduates who begin at a four-year institution go on to attend at least one other college, and over one-third take some time off from college after their initial enrollment. This study investigated whether there is social-class variation in these patterns, with advantaged and disadvantaged students responding to new postsecondary choices by engaging in different pathways. National longitudinal data from postsecondary transcripts were used to follow students across schools and to examine the importance of family background and high school preparation in predicting forms of college attendance. The results demonstrate that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely than are economically advantaged students (net of prior academic preparation) to follow pathways that are characterized by interrupted movement. Such pathways appear to be less effective routes to the timely completion of degrees. Thus, differences in how students attend college represent an additional layer of stratification in higher education.