Researchers Explore Factors Behind Mismatched College Choices

Many students attend a college they’re over- or underqualified for, and a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research examines why.

The researchers found substantial undermatch and overmatch, or students at colleges below or above their ability level, respectively. About 28 percent of students in the sample who started at a four-year college probably could have gone to a better institution, and 25 percent of students might have been in over their heads.

While those figures aren’t so different from shares of mismatched students three decades ago, the new report digs into this persistent issue.

Mismatches are driven more by the decisions of students and families than of admissions offices, argue the researchers, Eleanor W. Dillon, an assistant professor of economics at Arizona State University, and Jeffrey A. Smith, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan.

Financial constraints, among other factors, tended to spur undermatching, they found: Students from wealthier families were less likely to have undermatched. <Read more.>

Via Casey McDermott, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.