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Causal Effects of Information and Personal Assistance on Selective College Outcomes
January 12

Brian Holzman, Research Scientist at the Houston Education Research Consortium at Rice University

The Center for Poverty & Inequality Research is pleased to host Brian Holzman as a Visiting Scholar sponsored by the Institute for Research on Poverty. 

Event Description:
There is a growing debate in social science and education policy research on how to improve college outcomes for high-achieving students from low-income or first-generation backgrounds. While some studies suggest that providing information to students impacts college outcomes, other studies do not and suggest that students may need more support in the college application process. Using a regression discontinuity research design with a layered randomized controlled trial, this study examines how information and personal assistance impact college application behaviors and enrollment decisions among low-income and first-generation high school students in a large urban school district. The results show that an intensive, multi-year college access program has large, positive effects on applying to a selective college, the number of applications submitted to selective colleges, and enrollment in a selective college. In contrast, a low-touch information packet intervention shows null effects on these outcomes. Implications for future nudge interventions and scaling up social capital interventions are discussed.