Choosing Differently? College Application Behaviour and the Persistence of Educational Advantage

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Title: Choosing Differently? College Application Behaviour and the Persistence of Educational Advantage
Authors: Delaney, Judith M.Devereux, Paul J.
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Date: May-2020
Online since: 2020-08-13T08:25:41Z
Abstract: We use administrative data from Ireland to study differences in college application behaviour between students from disadvantaged versus advantaged high schools. Ireland provides an interesting laboratory for this analysis as applicants provide a preference-ordering of college programs (majors) and marginal applications are costless. Also, college admission depends almost completely on grades in the terminal high school examinations. Thus, we can compare the application choices of students who have equal chances of admission to college programs. Conditional on achievement and college opportunities, we find that students from advantaged high schools are more likely to apply to universities and to more selective college programs. They are also more likely to have preferences that cluster by program selectivity rather than by field of study. Our results suggest that, alongside differences in achievement, differences in college application behaviour also cause persons from advantaged high schools to be more likely to enrol in selective colleges and enter more selective programs. Importantly, we find that enrolment gaps for equally qualified applicants are smaller than differences in application behaviour; the relatively meritocratic centralised admissions system based on achievement undoes much of the effect of the differences in application behaviour.
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. School of Economics
Start page: 1
End page: 46
Series/Report no.: UCD Centre for Economic Research Working Paper Series; WP2020/10
Copyright (published version): 2020 the Authors
Keywords: Centralised admissions systemCollege applicationsCollege major choiceEducational mismatchHigher education
metadata.dc.subject.classification: I24; J24
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Geary Institute Research Collection
Economics Working Papers & Policy Papers

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