The role of college admissions representatives in the college application process by students' income and academic achievement
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] College access is one of the most studied areas in higher education, and yet college enrollment rates remain problematically stratified by socioeconomic status (SES) (Baum, Ma, & Payea, 2013). Low-income high-achieving students apply to different sets of colleges compared to high-income high-achieving students. Most low-income highachievers do not apply to selective universities. The lack of information regarding the college application process, college cost and financial aid was a reason why low-income high-achieving students fail to apply to selective colleges (Hoxby & Avery, 2013; Hoxby &Turner, 2013). This study examined the relation between contact with college admissions representatives as a source of information and college choices by high school students. In particular, it focused on how these relations vary across the spectrum of SES and academic achievement groups. The sample for this study drawn from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This study used the Hossler and Gallagher (1987) three-stage college choice model, Perna’s (2006a) multi-layer college choice model, and Tierney and Venegas’ (2009) cultural ecological theory for its theoretical framework. This theoretical framework provided guidance to understand the relation between college information and college application behavior of high school students. Logistic regression, fixed effects, and propensity score weighting (PSW) models were used to examine the relation between contact with college admissions representatives and college application. These models by SES and academic achievement were also used to identify differential effects of contact with college representatives across SES and academic achievement. Overall interpretation of the results suggested that there was a positive relationship between contact with college admissions representatives and college application. Aligning with the literature, this study also found that students’ demographic characteristics, academic preparedness and other information sources were strongly associated with the probability of college application. However, the influence of college representatives did not vary across SES and academic achievement significantly. Results of this study provided valuable insights on the role of college admissions representatives on college application, which can lead to better insights on improving college choice strategies for high school students. The study concluded with discussions and implications for theory, practice, and future research.
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