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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(9), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7090165

Out of the Education Desert: How Limited Local College Options are Associated with Inequity in Postsecondary Opportunities

1
Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA
2
Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 12 September 2018 / Accepted: 12 September 2018 / Published: 15 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Stratification and Inequality in Access to Higher Education)
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Abstract

The United States has a stratified hierarchy of colleges and universities. The consequences of this stratification include large disparities in the returns to higher education between the levels of postsecondary institutions, and gaps by race and income in terms of where students enroll that, together, have the potential to reproduce longstanding social inequality. We study one potential cause associated with enrollment disparities, the uneven geographic distribution of colleges around the United States. Specifically, we examine the college application and enrollment decisions of students who live in education deserts—geographic areas where students either do not have access to a broad-access, public college option (access deserts), or where they do not have access to a college that is academically matched to their academic credentials (match deserts). We find that the students in access deserts are more likely to apply to and enroll in colleges farther away from home than the students who have more readily available college options. In contrast, students in match deserts are less likely to apply to and enroll in academically-matched institutions. We discuss the equity implications of these findings and make recommendations for policy and future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: college choice; geography of opportunity; education desert; inequality; college application; college enrollment college choice; geography of opportunity; education desert; inequality; college application; college enrollment
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Klasik, D.; Blagg, K.; Pekor, Z. Out of the Education Desert: How Limited Local College Options are Associated with Inequity in Postsecondary Opportunities. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 165.

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