College Selectivity and Degree Completion
 
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Published online first in:
American Educational Research Journal
August 7, 2014

Scott Heil, CUNY Office of Institutional Research
Liza Reisel, Institute for Social Research
Paul Attewell, CUNY Graduate Center

Abstract

How much of a difference does it make whether a student of a given academic ability enters a more or a less selective four-year college? Some studies claim that attending a more academically selective college markedly improves one’s graduation prospects. Others report the reverse: an advantage from attending an institution where one’s own skills exceed most other students. Using multi-level models and propensity score matching methods to reduce selection bias, we find that selectivity, measured by a college’s average SAT score, does not have an independent effect on graduation. Instead of a selectivity effect we find relatively small positive effects on graduation rates from attending a college with higher tuition costs. We also find no evidence that students who do not attend highly selective colleges suffer reduced chances of graduation as a result, all else being equal.

 
 
News Coverage
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Does the Ivy League Matter?
Bloomberg Businessweek: Bloomberg Schools, August 8, 2014

Study Finds Minimal Impact of Selectivity on Degree Completion
Diverse, August 7, 2014

Study: College Selectivity Doesn't Improve Graduation Rates
U.S. News & World Report, August 7, 2014

Study: Attending a more selective college doesn't improve graduation prospects
The Christian Science Monitor, August 7, 2014

College graduation rates: More to do with students admitted than the college itself
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Get Schooled Blog), August 7, 2014

Morning Education: Selectivity Not the 'Secret Sauce'
Politico, August 7, 2014

Study Rejects Notion That Selective College Boosts Graduation Chances
Education Week, August 7, 2014
 

Selectivity Doesn’t Improve Graduation Prospects, Study Finds
The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 7, 2014

Selectivity and Graduation Rates
Inside Higher Ed, August 7, 2014

Going to a more selective college doesn't make you more likely to graduate
Vox.com, August 7, 2014
 
 
   
     
   
 
 
 
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