Selected ongoing projects
Revisiting the Mismatch Hypothesis: Mismatch Pathways and College Graduation (with Sigal Alon)
(Conditionally Accepted at Sociology of Education)
This study uses unique longitudinal administrative data on all applicants, students and graduates of four leading universities in Israel in order to assess whether and how application behavior is associated with student retention outcomes in college. We argue that the first encounter of students with the academic system—the application stage— carry important downstream effects on students’ retention. Specifically, the extent of risk young adults take in their college application structure their likelihood to be admitted to their first choice, their match with their classmates, and even influence their freshman year grades—all of which are important for student retention and graduation. Our results confirm that risk at application is an important predictor of students’ retention, though in not obvious ways: net of socioeconomic factors and academic preparation, risk averse applicants are the least likely to persist in the first field of enrollment, and obtain a BA in any field.
The STEM Momentum: STEM Courses during the First Year of College and Gender Differences in STEM BA Attainment (with Oded Mcdossi) (R&R)
Women today receive over half of all bachelor’s degrees in the US, but only a small share of degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Recent investigations of these disparities suggest that a substantial portion of the gap emerge within college, with higher attrition rates of STEM-aspiring women from STEM fields. We argue that part of these disparities may be rooted in gender differences in the curricular momentum of students during their first year. We evaluate this argument with detailed transcript information on a large, nationally representative sample of high school students who attended four-year colleges in the mid-2000s and assess whether and how the composition of courses STEM-aspiring men and women take during the first year of college impacts gender disparities in the attainment of STEM degree. Results confirm that STEM-aspiring men and women have significantly different course composition during their first year, with men taking higher share of their courses in STEM. These disparities, in turn, structure their likelihood of obtaining a degree in STEM, even net of prior academic achievements, socioeconomic background, attitudes and college characteristics. Furthermore, we find significant gender disparities in the returns to STEM momentum among students who aspire for STEM occupation, but not among those who do not aspire for STEM education.
"Organizational Identity and Student Diversity in US Colleges and Universities" (with Erez A. Marantz)
Despite various policy efforts, college enrollment patterns remain highly stratified by race and ethnicity, even among students with similar academic profiles. In this paper, we draw insights from the organizational literature to examine the role of organizational identity— colleges’ self-understandings of their central, distinctive, and enduring characteristics and mission—in shaping the diversity of their students. We assess the influence of organizational identity on diversity with original data containing the mission statements of all accredited colleges and universities in 2008 and 2018, along with comprehensive data on the organizational characteristics of all colleges obtained from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Our unique measures of organizational identity are derived from machine-learning models that enable us to identify reoccurring themes in mission statements and to characterize the identity of colleges in relation to other colleges in their environments. We then use fractional regression models to test how the distinctiveness of colleges’ identity and the extent to which they draw on multiple identity architypes—is related to the share of underrepresented minorities on campus. We find that colleges’ organizational identities are highly consequential for student diversity, even after accounting for key structural and academic characteristics (e.g., colleges' selectivity, location, revenues, degree offering, sector, etc.). Our results underscore the importance of organizational identity dynamics in shaping stratification in higher education, providing promising new avenues for future policies aimed at increasing diversity in US colleges.