The Impact of College Outreach on High Schoolers’ College Choices – Results From Over 1,000 Natural Experiments
42 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2019 Last revised: 1 Dec 2020
Date Written: November 2020
We estimate the impact of one of the largest college-to-student outreach efforts in the nation, the College Board’s Student Search Service. In an oversubscribed “order”, colleges receive contact information of a randomly chosen subset of PSAT and SAT Exam takers who opted into the service and meet colleges’ search criteria from a larger set of students with identical backgrounds. We find that students who receive outreach enabled by Student Search Service (“licensed”) are 23 percent (0.1 percentage points) more likely to apply to the licensing college than students with similar backgrounds who did not receive outreach. Nearly 20% of students induced to apply to a college because of the Student Search Service also enroll, increasing the probability of enrolling in the college that licensed their contact information by 22 percent (0.02 percentage points). These impacts are twice as large for traditionally underserved students. Responsiveness to college outreach is larger for racial/ethnic minorities, first generation students, and low- and moderate-income students. Despite the fact that one additional license changes the specific institution to which students send scores and enroll, we cannot detect changes to the broad types of colleges in which students ultimately enroll.
JEL Classification: I2, I23, L15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation