The Consequences of Academic Match between Students and Colleges

56 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2015

See all articles by Eleanor Wiske Dillon

Eleanor Wiske Dillon

Arizona State University (ASU)

Jeffrey A. Smith

University of Wisconsin - Madison; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper


We consider the effects of student ability, college quality, and the interaction between the two on academic outcomes and future earnings. Both ability and college quality strongly improve outcomes and earnings. We find little evidence to support the "mismatch" hypothesis that college quality and ability interact in substantively important ways. All students benefit from attending higher quality colleges. Our estimates imply that resorting students to eliminate mismatch, without changing the capacity of any colleges, would raise expected graduation rates by only 0.6 percentage points and mean earnings by $400 per year. The substantial gains for students who move to higher quality colleges under this reshuffling roughly cancel out the losses of students who move down.

Keywords: college quality, mismatch

JEL Classification: I21, J31

Suggested Citation

Dillon, Eleanor Wiske and Smith, Jeffrey Andrew, The Consequences of Academic Match between Students and Colleges. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9080, Available at SSRN: or

Eleanor Wiske Dillon (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

No Address Available

Jeffrey Andrew Smith

University of Wisconsin - Madison

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics