College education is widely accepted to be a necessity for success in today’s economy, particularly with respect to socioeconomic mobility. Alarmingly, it is minorities and students from poorer backgrounds that have the lowest college enrollment and graduation rates. Can improving the information students have on colleges improve the matching process between students and colleges? In turn, will this have any impact on their performance, graduation rates, and ultimately, their chances of upward mobilization?
In partnership with the Houston Independent School District and the Washington, D.C. Public School District, we began the College Knowledge project with the aim of providing students with accurate information on the effect of college choice on future income. In the fall of 2015, interested college bound seniors were asked to return a completed survey to program managers. These surveys asked students to list up to 10 of their most preferred colleges to apply to and their reasons for choosing each college.
Of the pool of interested students, 200 students were selected to be treated. Over the course of four after-school sessions, we provided students in the treatment group with information on the cost of attending their preferred colleges and suggestions on other colleges they could apply to. At the end, each student presented an updated list of their preferred colleges and their reasons for choosing those colleges. Students in both treatment and control groups completed a survey in the spring of 2016 on their college choices.
We also collected data maintained by HISD on attendance, behavior, grades, test scores, and college enrollment to facilitate our assessment.
The project is ongoing and the analyses will be forthcoming.