According to a recent study published by Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby and Christopher Avery of Harvard’s Kennedy School of presidency, low-income high-achieving students often hamstring themselves in their higher education careers by not attempting to gain admission to some of the more selective universites and colleges in the United States. According to Matthew Yglesias writing for Slate, this means that the best schools in the united states lose use of as many as 20,000 potential high-performing students per year.
It isn’t a surprise that the large proportion of high-achieving students originate from families with higher income. Of these whose ACT and SAT scores put them in the top 10% of the student population, only 17% originate from families in the bottom quarter of the U.S. population in income.
The problem comes from the fact that while higher-income high achievers are more likely to apply to the very best colleges, those who match them academically, but originate from poorer families are more likely to accept a lower-profile, lower-prestige and less selective school.
Low-income students are extremely different. Fully 53 percent of them apply to zero schools whose median SAT or ACT scores act like their own. Many of these smart, poor kids apply simply to a single unselective school. Only a very small percentage of these kids-8 percent of them, the authors estimate-act the same as high-achievement kids from prosperous families by applying to selective schools, including some reaches and safeties.
Hoxby and Avery label the 53 percent \”income-typical\” and also the 8 percent \”achievement-typical.\” They find that that small minority of students who exhibit achievement-typical application behavior do just as well as higher-income students at actually signing up for and graduating from college. When poor kids affect good schools, quite simply, they\’re just as prone to get in weight loss affluent ones are. The selective colleges deliver enough financial aid to make it possible for achievement-typical kids to attend, and they\’re able to do the work and graduate.
Those who are achievement-typical have some characteristics in common. They tend in the future from urban settings C the larger the area, the more achievement-typical low-income students it\’ll have C or from smaller cities which are located near very selective colleges.
Low-income students who originate from rural or suburban areas are more likely to be income-typical mainly because of the fact that their schools don’t possess the support systems in place to get them through the sometimes-challenging college application. In short, they\’re less likely to find people who would encourage them to stretch themselves and affect a more selective school.
There are a few logistical barriers to improving recruiting-it\’s cheaper to recruit nearby as well as in bigger high schools-but they hardly seem insurmountable. If colleges start to realize how many high-achieving low-income students they\’re missing, they might send their recruiting staff further afield. What\’s more, written communications can certainly target students no matter location. The key is that written outreach needs to be specially tailored towards the circumstances of low-income students whose personal networks don\’t include graduates of selective schools. That means emphasizing the real cost of attendance instead of headline tuition, cheap there are gradations of faculty quality beyond Harvard vs. Other. And success could build on itself. If selective schools did a better job of reaching out to lower-income students, they\’d build more diverse alumni networks.