The nation's most elite colleges and universities have in recent years added numerous programs to help students from low-income backgrounds enroll. And at many such institutions, low-income students would not need to pay anything, or would have to make only very small contributions to the annual tab. So why, at some of these institutions, is one more likely to find a student with a second home than one with a Pell Grant?
A new study finds that a majority students with low incomes but high academic ability never apply to a single competitive college. Further, the study finds that many colleges are searching for these students at a very small number of high schools --and in the process are missing lots of other talent. The study -- by Caroline M. Hoxby, a professor of economics at Stanford University, and Christopher Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard University -- was released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. (An abstract is available here.)
In their conclusion, Hoxby and Avery say that their work shows there are more low-income students of high academic talent out there. Broadening recruiting would cost more in time and money than the current system, they write. But colleges today appear to be "searching under the lamp post" for the small number of students that are visible, ratherthan searching "where the students are."
I also want to post another poster's comment about why low-income students do not apply to highly selective institutions:
If I am admitted to an elite school, and "everything is paid for", I am far away from family and my support network. I may not have the resources to go home over breaks, or for family to visit me. I may not have the resources to dress as my peers at elite school dress, or the funds to socialize as do my peers. There are many many outside of the classroom issues that are not addressed...and these are significant barriers.