Does information increase college enrollment? Evidence from a field experimentI (joint paper with Frauke Peter and Vaishali Zambre) AME

Wednesday 9 May 2018, 11.00AM to 12.00pm

Speaker(s): Katharina Spiess (Freie Universität Berlin, DIW Berlin)

Although access to university education has increased, students from non-academic family backgrounds are still underrepresented in higher education. This contribution sheds light on whether the provision of information helps students to enroll in college. We conducted a randomized controlled trial with more than 1,000 German high school students. One year prior to the "Abitur"-exams, we treated randomly selected schools in Berlin by giving an in-class presentation on the benefits of higher education as well as on possible funding options for college education. This information workshop was conducted within the school context during school hours to mimic a potential policy measure aiming at reducing inequality at the transition to higher education. We surveyed students prior to the information intervention and followed them for five consecutive years. We examine how students' college application, their actual enrollment as well as their persistence in college change as a result of improving their information set. Our results show that the information intervention increases students' application as well as their enrollment rates, in particular for students who indicated an intention to enroll prior to treatment. Moreover, treated students persist in college at similar rates as students in the control group, i.e. they are not more likely to drop out of college. Overall, our results show that a low-cost information intervention is sufficient to encourage students to translate their intentions into actual enrollment, while it may, however, not be an adequate tool to persuade students to enroll in college if they initially have no desire to follow this post-secondary path.   

Location: HERC

Admission: All welcome