The Impact of a STEM-Focused Summer Program on College and Major Choices Among Underserved High-Achievers

Higher Education, New Findings, August 2018

This study presents evi­dence that a STEM-focused sum­mer pro­gram for high-achiev­ing, under­served high school stu­dents that is held annu­al­ly at a selec­tive, pri­vate uni­ver­si­ty increas­es appli­ca­tion and enroll­ment rates at selec­tive uni­ver­si­ties and per­sis­tence in STEM. The study uses records from the pro­gram admis­sion process to reduce selec­tion bias by focus­ing on appli­cants who advanced to the penul­ti­mate stage of admis­sions and con­trol­ling for observ­ables using OLS and propen­si­ty score tech­niques. Results show the pro­gram triples the rate of enroll­ment at the host insti­tu­tion. Students are shift­ing into the host insti­tu­tion from less selec­tive uni­ver­si­ties on aver­age with no detectable dif­fer­ence in grad­u­a­tion rates, allay­ing fears of col­lege mismatch.