Personalized Information and College Choices: The Role of School Counselors, Technology, and Siblings
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CitationMulhern, Christine. 2020. Personalized Information and College Choices: The Role of School Counselors, Technology, and Siblings. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractI examine how postsecondary education choices and educational attainment are impacted by the personalized information students receive from their school counselors, siblings and the popular guidance technology Naviance. The first chapter evaluates how data on peers' college application and admission experiences, which over forty percent of high schoolers see on Naviance, influence where students apply to and attend college. Using regression discontinuity designs, I find that students are more likely to apply to a college if peer admissions data are available and if they are similar to previous admits. Students are less likely to apply where the data framing suggests admissions is unlikely. The second chapter leverages the quasi-random assignment of high school guidance counselors to measure their causal effects on high school graduation, college attendance, selectivity, and persistence. I show that counselors have large effects on these outcomes and their effects are driven by the information and assistance they provide, rather than short-term effects on cognitive and non-cognitive skills. The third chapter uses SAT admissions thresholds in a regression discontinuity setup to examine how exogenous variation in older siblings' college access and enrollment influences their younger sibling. Increasing the quality of college attended by the older sibling raises younger siblings' college enrollment rates and quality of college chosen. All chapters indicate that information has the largest effects on low-income and minority students' college choices. Thus, the resources examined here may be useful for reducing socioeconomic gaps in access to postsecondary education and for increasing educational attainment. This is some of the first evidence that college-going behavior is transmissible between peers and that effective counseling and technological assistance can increase college access on a large scale.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365738
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