Joshua S. Goodman: College Access, Initial College Choice and Degree Completion


Monday, April 11, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Joshua S. Goodman, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.

We explore whether initial college choice affects low-skilled students’ degree completion rates. 

Admission to Georgia’s public universities requires minimum SAT scores. Regression discontinuity estimates show that access to such universities increases four-year college enrollment and the quality of college chosen.

Most importantly, access to public universities substantially increases bachelor’s degree completion rates. SAT retaking behavior suggests students value access to this sector.

Our degree completion results may partly explain the labor market return to college quality. Proposals to make community college free could lower degree completion rates if quality reforms do not accompany price reforms.

View the paper
(Joint with Michael Hurwitz and Jonathan Smith, both of College Board).

About the speaker

Joshua S. Goodman, Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, studies the economics of education. He has explored the impact of merit aid on college choice, the impact of college quality on degree completion, and the impact of various math coursework interventions on the long-run outcomes of students.

Goodman received a B.A. in physics from Harvard University, an M.Phil. in education from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University. Prior to starting his Ph.D., he was a public high school math teacher in Watertown, MA.

See also: Spring 2016