...[T]he average SAT score of schools that rejected a student is more than twice as strong a predictor of the student’s subsequent earnings as the average SAT score of the school the student attended...Assuming I'm following the argument, Dale and Krueger are saying that when you account for unmeasured factors such as a student's level of ambition, the selectivity of a school has no effect on the earnings of white children raised by educated parents. In other words, more ambitious students file more ambitious applications; they apply to more highly selective schools than do students who are less ambitious. Same SAT scores, different set of college applications.
Estimating the Return to College Selectivity over the Career Using Administrative Earnings Data
Stacy Dale, Alan B. Krueger
NBER Working Paper No. 17159
Issued in June 2011
I can email a copy of the article to anyone who'd like to read.
also from the paper:
The high selectivity of the colleges within the C&B [College and Beyond Survey] database make it particularly well-suited for this analysis, because the majority of students that attend selective colleges submit multiple applications, which is necessary for our identification strategy. In contrast, many students who attend less selective colleges submit only one application, because many less selective colleges accept all students who apply. For example, according to data from the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972, only 46 percent of students who attended college applied to more than one school.and:
Nearly two-thirds of the 1976 cohort and 71 percent of the 1989 cohort submitted at least one additional application (in addition to the school they attended). For both cohorts, of those students submitting at least one additional application, over half applied to a school with a higher average SAT score than that of the college they attended, and nearly 90 percent of students were accepted to at least one additional school. Of those accepted to more than one school, about 35 percent were accepted to a more selective school than the one they ended up attending. The data for black and Hispanic students (shown in columns 2 and 4) are similar, though blacks and Hispanics were somewhat more likely than students in the full sample to be accepted to at least one additional school, and to be accepted to a more selective school than the one they attended.