1. Impacts of Transfer Admissions Requirements: Evidence from Georgia.

Abstract: One-third of all post-secondary students transfer colleges and roughly two-thirds of public four-year colleges require a minimum college GPA to be eligible for transfer admissions. Yet, little is known about how these policies influence who, when, and where students transfer. This paper studies the minimum transfer admissions requirements at institutions within the University System of Georgia. At the GPA thresholds, I estimate that the probability of transferring within one year of earning 30 credits increases by 0.5 to 3.1 percentage points, or about 67 to 200 percent, depending on the GPA threshold and student group analyzed. The short term transfer impacts persist over time, but are far less distinct. These results suggest that (a) minimum transfer GPA requirements often generate excess demand for attendance at these institutions, which may have important implications for college match and access to selective colleges and (b) minimum transfer GPA requirements can influence both the timing of transfers and whether students ever transfer.

2. College Entrance Exam-Taking Strategies in Georgia. (with Weixiang Pan and Jonathan Smith)

Abstract: Using administrative data from Georgia, we provide the first study of the full set of college entrance exam-taking strategies, including who takes the ACT and the SAT (or both), when they take the exams, and how many times they take each exam. We have several main findings. First, one-third of exam takers take both the ACT and SAT. Second, we see pronounced disparities in several measures of exam-taking strategy by free- and reduced-price lunch status, even after including a rich set of controls, but not by underrepresented minority status. Third, we find evidence that taking more total exams leads to higher admissions-relevant test scores and a higher likelihood of enrolling in colleges with relatively high graduation rates and earnings. However, these relationships with test scores and college enrollment are smaller for those who take both the ACT and SAT, as opposed to retaking the same exam multiple times.

Working Papers

1. Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the Labor Market: Evidence from a Field Experiment. Under Review.

Abstract: About 42 percent of bachelor's degree graduates take longer than four years to complete their degree. In this paper, I study whether the amount of time students take to complete their bachelor's degree affects labor market outcomes after graduation using a resume-based field experiment. I randomly assign a time to degree of either four or six years, as well as the selectivity of the public colleges where the degrees were received, to fictitious resumes of recent graduates where all other resume attributes are equivalent on average. I send over 7,000 resumes to real job vacancy postings for entry-level business jobs on a large online job board and track employer response rates. In the full sample of jobs, resumes listing bachelor's degree completion in six years received about 3 percent fewer employer responses than resumes indicating graduation in four years, but this difference is not statistically significant. Meanwhile, I estimate that listing a relatively more selective college increases response rates by about 13 percent, and by about 33 percent among higher paying jobs. The full sample estimates of the effect of time to degree mask heterogeneity by characteristics of the job posting. For jobs with relatively large applicant pools, resumes listing six years to degree receive 17 percent fewer responses.

2. College Opportunity and Teen Fertility: Evidence from Ser Pilo Paga in Colombia. (with Jesús Villero) R&R at Journal of Development Economics.

Abstract: We study the effects of an increase in post-secondary educational opportunities on teen fertility by exploiting policy-induced variation from Ser Pilo Paga (SPP), a generous college financial aid program in Colombia that dramatically expanded college opportunities for low-income students. Our preferred empirical approach uses a triple difference design that leverages variation in the share of female students eligible for the program across municipalities and the fact that the introduction of SPP should not affect the education and fertility decisions of older women not targeted by the program. We find that after the introduction of SPP, fertility rates for women aged 15-19 years old decreased in more affected municipalities by about 6 percent relative to less affected municipalities. This effect accounts for approximately one-fourth of the overall decrease in teen fertility observed in the years following the program's announcement. Our results suggest that increasing economic opportunities through expanding college access can contribute to lowering teen fertility rates.

3. Delayed Bachelor's Degree Graduates Have Lower Graduate School Enrollment Rates. (Previously titled "Time to Baccalaureate Degree and Graduate School Enrollment") Under Review.

Abstract: Using nationally representative data from the Baccalaureate and Beyond surveys, I establish a new descriptive finding: students who take longer than four years to complete their bachelor's degree have significantly lower graduate school enrollment rates compared to students who complete their bachelor's degree in four years, which is the standard for "on-time" graduation. Importantly, I show that students with a different time to degree report having similar expectations for earning a graduate degree in the future when asked during their final year of their bachelor's degree, suggesting differential graduate school goals do not explain the enrollment gaps. Additional analyses find that these enrollment patterns are driven entirely by differences in full-time enrollment in graduate programs within the first year after completing the bachelor's degree. Delayed graduates are not more or less likely to enroll in part-time graduate degree programs or to initially enroll between one and ten years after completing their bachelor's degree.

Other Publications

1. Opportunities to Improve the Pipeline of Students Into and Through Advanced Placement. (with Thomas Goldring, Monica Mogollon Plazas, and Jonathan Smith). July 2023.

2. Placement Tests, Initial Enrollments, and Student Outcomes in the Technical College System of Georgia. (with David Ribar and Jonathan Smith) Georgia Policy Labs. July 2021.

3. The Effects of Minimum College Transfer Admissions Requirements within the University System of Georgia. Georgia Policy Labs. May 2021.