Research in Higher Education

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 153–183 | Cite as

Choosing College in the 2000s: An Updated Analysis Using the Conditional Logistic Choice Model

  • Benjamin T. SkinnerEmail author


In this paper I investigate the college enrollment decisions of a nationally representative cohort of students who first attended in the mid-2000s. I find that while cost, distance, and match continued to be important in the choice between colleges, characteristics of the most-likely college choice appear less important in the choice of whether to enroll at all when controlling for student characteristics and local labor market conditions. Subpopulation analyses on students with high SAT scores and students with low family income, two groups that remain the focus of many financial aid policies, indicate some differences in the way these particular students chose college. Extending prior work by modeling discrete steps in the enrollment decision process—application and enrollment conditional on application—I find choice characteristics were most significant in the application stage. These results support other research that shows students may self-select out of potentially better college matches due to lack of information about actual costs or limited geographic opportunity.


College access College choice Conditional logistic choice model Geographic opportunity 



I would like to thank Brent Evans, Laura Perna, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on previous iterations of this paper. I would also like to thank Will Doyle, Dale Ballou, Dominique Baker, and Richard Blissett for their thoughts and suggestions throughout. All errors and mistakes in interpretation remain my own.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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