Throughout the United States, many qualified high school seniors fail to apply and enroll in college. With evidence suggesting high rates of return to college education, policymakers have sought ways to encourage more young people to attend college. There are a variety of methods that could help encourage students to apply for college, including counselling, information packages, or application fee waivers.
In order to understand the benefits of these methods, Scott Carrell (UC Davis) and J-PAL Affiliate Bruce Sacerdote (Dartmouth) conducted a randomized evaluation of New Hampshire high school students who are on the margin of attending versus not attending college.
The results of the evaluation found that the mentorship program increased enrollment rates among female students by 15 percentage points, but it had no significant impact on male college enrollment. The results for male students may be due to the fact that men had lowered perceived returns to college than women and forecasted higher hourly wages with only a high school degree. The information packets and fee waivers did not effectively increase college enrollment without mentorship, indicating that students who have made little progress applying on their own may require more hands-on support.
Study Cited: Carrell, Scott E. and Bruce I. Sacerdote. “Why do College Going Interventions Work?” NBER Working Paper N. 19031, May 2013.