Three essays on educational success

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Raynor, Katie Lynn

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The unifying theme of this dissertation is the empirical analysis of the determinants of educational success. The first essay asks whether high school time use affects the probability that a high school graduate attends college. These effects may be due to acceptance decisions by colleges or because different time uses actually change the amount of educational attainment an individual desires. Three types of high school time use are considered: doing homework outside school, participating in extracurricular activities, and working for pay. The data used for this essay, as well as for the other two essays, are from the National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS:88). Instrumental variables analysis suggests that the time spent on homework outside school may be the most important type of time use, and it may have a very large positive effect on four-year college attendance. The second essay identifies how high school time use affects college GPA for individuals attending their first year at four-year colleges, using the same three types of high school time use as in the previous essay. College time use is imputed using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) since this information is not available in the NELS:88. The results indicate that high school time use is important in determining GPA during the first year of college, where part of this effect is due to the fact that spending more time on homework during high school increases an individual’s ability level, which later increases college GPA. The purpose of the third essay is to analyze whether living at home with one’s parents will affect a college student’s gradepoint average. For students from higher income families, college GPA’s will be significantly higher if they live away from home. However, living at home during college does not negatively affect GPA for those from lower income families.