Influencing College Matriculation and Application Behavior: An Evaluation of the MITES Program
Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Japengo (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Policy-makers and educators alike are intensely interested in the supply of minority, female, and low-income college graduates educated in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. In addition, it is increasingly well-documented that many low-income students who rank highly along observable measures of academic performance systematically apply to and attend less selective universities. Despite a host of public and private initiatives aimed at remedying these gaps, there is very little research on the effect of such late term interventions. I explore how a suite of summer enrichment programs offered annually to rising high school seniors by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology influence application and matriculation behavior, as well as major choices. The flagship program, known as the Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) has been serving talented yet under-resourced students for 40 years. I use detailed data on program applicants between 2006 and 2013 coupled with information from the National Student Clearinghouse and the Consortium on Financing in Higher Education to estimate the effect of MITES. I exploit internal knowledge about the selection process to reduce selection bias, and employ OLS regression and propensity score matching techniques to find evidence that MITES increases the probability of enrolling in any four year university by about four and a half percentage points, and the probability of enrolling in MIT by about 33 percentage points. Meanwhile enrollment in lower ranked universities decreases, with no discernable effects on graduation rates. Additional analysis will estimate the effect of MITES on college major and graduation. A randomized experiment assigning applicants to one of three summer programs held at MIT or a control group is currently under way.