Changing College Choices with Personalized Admissions Information at Scale

Evidence on Naviance

Published in: Journal of Labor Economics, Volume 39, Number 1, 219–262 (January 2021). doi: 10.1086/708839

Posted on RAND.org on February 03, 2021

by Christine Mulhern

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Choosing where to apply to college is a complex problem with long-term consequences, but many students lack the guidance necessary to make optimal choices. I show that a technology that provides low-cost personalized college admissions information to more than 40% of high schoolers significantly alters college choices. Students shift applications and attendance to colleges for which they can observe information on schoolmates' admissions experiences. Responses are largest when such information suggests a high admissions probability. Disadvantaged students respond the most, and information on in-state colleges increases their 4-year college attendance. Data features and framing, however, deter students from selective colleges.

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