More Data on College Applicants Helps Prospects of Low-Income Students, Study Finds

According to a recent study, systematically providing selective colleges with detailed information about applicants’ high school backgrounds could significantly increase the admission rates of low-income students, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The research – conducted by Michael Bastedo, director of the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, and Nicholas A. Bowman, director of the University of Iowa's Center for Research on Undergraduate Education – was based on an experiment in which more than 300 admission officers at selective institutions passed judgment on hypothetical applicants from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The officers who were given detailed information about applicants' high schools were about 13 percent more likely to recommend the admission of a student of low socioeconomic status than were officers who had been give basic information.

They showed "a willingness to reward applicants for overcoming obstacles rather than penalizing applicants for attending an insufficiently rigorous high school," the paper stated. Further, the authors said that selective schools' failure to enroll more low-income students "may be partially due to a lack of high-quality information," the Chronicle reported.

The paper was presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) last week.


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The Chronicle of Higher Education