Behavioral economics “nudges” didn’t solve college undermatching problem

A behavioral economics “nudge” didn’t solve the college undermatching problem.

Reported by Inside Higher Ed, the long term results of a College Board study aimed at increasing high-ability low-income students’ applications to selective institutions came back ineffective.

The goal was that by sending direct mail, emails and texts to these students about these more selective schools, and offering no application fees, that the students would increase their reach, and apply to more competitive schools. But there was no noticeable long-term enrollment effect.

The takeaway? It appears that behavioral change happens even earlier in the decision-making process. That a student’s expectation of where they’re going to go to college happens even earlier than we might think. So how do we raise and change the expectations of our students before it’s decision time. And how can we make sure our institution is that option they have in mind all along?

May you continue to fight the good enrollment growth fight at your institution today, and we’ll see you again tomorrow.

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Eric Olsen

Eric brings more than a decade of award-winning creative brand development, marketing analytics and higher education experience to Helix Education. Eric is a graduate of Bradley University and earned his MBA at Lewis University.