The Early Decision Option in College Admission and its Impact on Student Diversity

40 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2009 Last revised: 16 May 2011

Heather Antecol

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Janet Kiholm Smith

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance

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Date Written: May 4, 2011

Abstract

Many schools rely on early decision (ED) as an admission practice. Schools that adopt ED are able to generate additional resources by attracting wealthier students who, upon admission, make binding commitments to attend and to forego shopping for competing aid offers. An unanswered question is whether the resources generated from this price discrimination practice are used by schools during the regular admission process to attract more diverse students. We document the admission practices for private national universities and liberal arts colleges. We model the choice to adopt an ED program and its impact on student racial and geographic diversity. We find that schools that face more competition for students are more likely to adopt ED. While, in theory, it is possible for ED to enable greater diversity over some range of early enrollment percentages, we find that the overall heterogeneity of the students is lower for schools that adopt ED and that heterogeneity falls monotonically as the schools enroll larger percentages of their students through ED. Higher ED enrollment percentages appear to strongly and negatively affect Asian American and Hispanic students and positively affect white students

Keywords: College admission, student diversity, early decision, antitrust

JEL Classification: I2, J7, L3

Suggested Citation

Antecol, Heather and Smith, Janet Kiholm, The Early Decision Option in College Admission and its Impact on Student Diversity (May 4, 2011). Claremont McKenna College Robert Day School of Economics and Finance Research Paper No. 2009-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1494072 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1494072

Heather Antecol (Contact Author)

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Janet Kiholm Smith

Claremont McKenna College - Robert Day School of Economics and Finance ( email )

500 E. Ninth St.
Claremont, CA 91711-6420
United States
909-607-3276 (Phone)

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