The Impact of Campus Scandals on College Applications
37 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2016 Last revised: 10 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 9, 2017
In recent years, there have been a number of high profile scandals on college campuses, ranging from cheating to hazing to rape. With so much information regarding a college’s academic and non-academic attributes available to students, how do these scandals affect their applications? To investigate, we construct a dataset of scandals at the top 100 U.S. universities between 2001 and 2013. Scandals with a high level of media coverage significantly reduce applications. For example, a scandal covered in a long-form news article leads to a ten percent drop in applications the following year. This is roughly the same as the impact on applications of dropping ten spots in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. This impact on applications persists for two years following the high-profile scandal. We find little evidence to suggest that this drop in applications is associated with longer-term negative effects for the school such as a less competitive applicant pool or a more dangerous campus environment.
Keywords: Media Economics, College Choice, Reputation, Economics of Information
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