Conceptual and Methodological Problems in Research on College Undermatch

Mar. 01, 2014

Source: Educational Researcher, 43(2), p. 93-99. March 2014.

The authors argue that a popular explanation for the inequality in the access to the nation’s most selective colleges is that low-income students undermatch by attending less selective colleges when their credentials predict admission to more highly selective colleges.

They identify three problematic assumptions in research on undermatching:
(a) that researchers can differentiate colleges at the “margin that matters” for student outcomes; (b) that researchers can accurately predict who will be admitted at colleges that use holistic admission processes; and
(c) that using achievement measures like SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) scores to match students to colleges will reduce postsecondary inequality.

They discuss the implications of these assumptions for future research on college choice and stratification.

Updated: Aug. 07, 2014