The graduates : low-income central Texas students' transitions to college and work in the great recession
This report explores the extent, trends, and consequences of academic undermatch, defined as students enrolling at an institution of relatively less selectivity than what their academic qualifications grant them access to, including non-enrollment. Using a sample of two cohorts of Central Texas high school graduates, this report finds that undermatch occurs among all students, but that it was more extensive for low-income students and among students with average qualification levels. Low-income students were found to undermatch at 65.1 percent and non low-income students at 53.9 percent of those who enroll. Between 2008 and 2009, undermatch increased among all students; among the highest qualified low-income students it increased by 10 percentage points. The majority of undermatched students were found to be enrolled at two-year over four-year institutions. A negative relationship between qualification level and annual earnings was found in the earnings of students who did not enroll. This report provides a set of recommendations to address undermatch and college access among low-income students in Central Texas.