Caroline Hoxby, the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor of Economics at Stanford University recently completed a study on the college application behavior of high-achieving, low-income students. She found that many of the nation’s most talented minority students simply do not apply to our nation’s leading colleges and universities.
Professor Hoxby found that many of these students are simply unaware of the educational opportunities that are available to them or our scared away by the high ticket prices at these institutions. Her research found that when students are made aware of their opportunities and are educated that they can receive scholarship grants that cover most if not all of their expenses, these students will apply and enroll at these top schools.
Dr. Hoxby and colleagues developed the Expanding College Opportunities program which was tested on about 40,000 students using a randomized controlled trial. Students targeted by the project received the same sort of information and reminders that they might receive if an expert counselor were guiding them through the college application process. But, in this case, the information comes not in person but through the mail and online.
“We showed students how to find colleges for which they were best prepared academically. In other words, we tried to help them make wise decisions for themselves,” Professor Hoxby said.
Students who received the intervention submitted 48 percent more applications than those who did not, and they were 56 percent more likely to apply to a “peer” institution where other students had similar test scores and grade point averages.
“If a child has managed, despite coming from a low-income family, to become extremely well prepared for college, it is a huge waste if she fails to get a great college education simply because she doesn’t know that she could,” Professor Hoxby said.
Professor Hoxby is a summa cum laude graduate of Harvard University. She earned a master’s degree at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and a Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has taught at Stanford since 2007 after teaching at Harvard for 13 years.
Professor Hoxby’s co-author on the study is Sarah Turner, University Professor of Economics and Education at the University of Virginia. The paper, “Expanding College Opportunities for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students,” can be downloaded here.