Trending Topic Research File: College Admissions and Enrollment
Trending Topic Research File: College Admissions and Enrollment
College Admissions and Enrollment

Trending Topic Research File

Who is applying to college, who gets in, where do students decide to go, and how to make the process fair and equitable are among some of the biggest questions facing higher education leaders, students and families, and policymakers.

The following compendium of open-access articles are inclusive of all substantive AERA journal content regarding college admissions and enrollment published since 2019. This page will be updated as new articles are published. 

AERA Journal Articles

Note: Articles are listed below in reverse chronological order of publication. 

Redefining Merit Through New Routines: Holistic Admissions Policy Implementation in Graduate Education
Julie Posselt, Deborah Southern, Theresa Hernandez, Steve Desir, Fatima Alleyne, Casey W. Miller
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, October 2023
Researchers found that organizational transition to holistic admissions is multilevel, involving new policy/structural, practice/cultural, and cognitive/interpretive routines, which carry promise for disrupting institutionalized inequities where the politics of changing these routines can be managed.

Contextualized High School Performance: Evidence to Inform Equitable Holistic, Test-Optional, and Test-Free Admissions Policies
Michael N. Bastedo, Mark Umbricht, Emma Bausch, Bo-Kyung Byun, Yiping Bai
AERA Open, September 2023
Researchers found that contextualized indicators of high school grades and standardized tests are strongly associated with student success in college, validating their use in holistic admissions.

The Impact of Performance Funding Policy Design on College Access and Selectivity
Kelly Rosinger, Justin Ortagus, Robert Kelchen, Junghee Choi
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, February 2023
Researchers found suggestive evidence that increases in the share of revenue at stake are associated with decreases in racially minoritized student enrollment. Meanwhile, equity metrics may not be enough to boost enrollment among underserved students.

The Uncertain Path Toward College: How Intersectionality Shaped the Experiences of Latinas Enrolled at a Hispanic-Serving Institution
Ruth M. López, Maria L. Honey, Stephanie Rendon, Stephanie Pérez-Gill
AERA Open, June 2022
Researchers found that multiple forms of oppression and social identities shaped the high school experiences of Latinas and learned how they found belonging at an HSI by finding spaces and individuals who validated their intersectionality.

Improving Racial Equity in Community College: Developing a Plan, Implementing the Vision
Eric R. Felix
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2021
Researchers found that key to equity planning was a critical mass of Latinx practitioners able to see the policy as an opportunity to tackle one of the greatest inequities on their campus, Latinx transfer.

Can Standardizing Applicant High School and Neighborhood Information Help to Diversify Selective Colleges?
Zachary Mabel, Michael D. Hurwitz, Jessica Howell, Greg Perfetto
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2022
Researchers found that the tool did not alter the probability of enrollment as a function of applicant challenge level in the full sample, but positive changes are concentrated among applicants to institutions that used the tool to allocate financial aid.

Sorting Machines: Digital Technology and Categorical Inequality in Education
Matthew H. Rafalow, Cassidy Puckett
Educational Researcher, January 2022
Reseachers found that educational resources, like digital technologies, are also sorted by schools. 

What If We Leave It Up to Chance? Admissions Lotteries and Equitable Access at Selective Colleges
Dominique J. Baker, Michael N. Bastedo
Educational Researcher, November 2021
In the overwhelming majority of lottery simulations, the proportions of low-income students and students of color drop precipitously.

Asian Americans, Admissions, and College Choice: An Empirical Test of Claims of Harm Used in Federal Investigations
Mike Hoa Nguyen, Connie Y. Chang, Victoria Kim, Rose Ann E. Gutierrez, Annie Le, Denis Dumas, Robert T. Teranishi
Educational Researcher, August 2020 
This study empirically tests the claims made by CAAA and AACE with particular attention to the differences in Asian American student outcomes, relative to their college admissions and choice decisions. 

Disability Identification and Educational Accommodations: Lessons From the 2019 Admissions Scandal
Benjamin J. Lovett
Educational Researcher, January 2020
A widely publicized scandal involved students who obtained fraudulent diagnoses of learning disabilities in an effort to get accommodations on college admissions tests.

Missed Exams and Lost Opportunities: Who Could Gain From Expanded College Admission Testing?
Emily E. Cook, Sarah Turner
AERA Open, June 2019
Researchers found that universal testing in Virginia could increase the number of high school graduates with test scores competitive for admission at broad-access universities in the state by as much as 40%—and at the most selective institutions by nearly 20%—with larger increases for low-income students.

Pell Grant Versus Income Data in Postsecondary Research
Kelly Ochs Rosinger, Karly S. Ford
Educational Researcher, May 2019
Researchers demonstrated that Pell is a rough measure of low-income status and that without more detailed data on colleges’ economic diversity, policy evaluations focusing on existing Pell data will suffer from measurement error and potentially miss enrollment effects for moderate- and high-income students.

Improving Admission of Low-SES Students at Selective Colleges
Michael N. Bastedo, Nicholas A. Bowman
Educational Researcher, March 2017
Researchers found that admissions officers in the detailed-information condition were more likely to recommend admitting a low-SES applicant from an underserved high school than those in the limited-information condition, although the limited-information condition provided significant details about family SES and high school context.