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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

College List & The Sibling Effect

Inside Higher Ed: "When older siblings enroll at a target college, it 'nearly quadruple[s] the probability that younger siblings apply to the same target college (from 10 to 37 percent). Though younger siblings do not appear to increase their number of college applications, they roughly double their probability (from 25 to 53 percent) of applying only to colleges with historical graduation rates higher than 50 percent, suggesting their portfolio of applications improves given their older siblings' choice of a higher quality college ... Thirteen percent of younger siblings follow their older sibling to the target college only because their older sibling enrolled there, an impact that is highly statistically significant' ... But the impact extends further, to the younger siblings applying to other high-quality colleges."

According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research: "We argue that an older sibling’s enrollment in a higher quality college can provide for families information about postsecondary education that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain. In that sense, an older sibling’s college choice is a particularly high touch intervention, providing prolonged exposure to another person’s experience of the complex good that college education represents."

"If students’ college choices are deeply affected by the college experiences of people in their social networks, such social factors may partly explain persistent differences in college enrollment by income, race and geography."

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