by Dwight Steward
Deciding which schools their children attend is one of the biggest and anxiety producing decisions that parents make. Often at the heart of the decision is determining how much value there is in children attending highly competitive high schools versus less competitive high schools. For example, are kids in highly competitive schools more likely to attend and graduate from college?
Recent research by Princeton economist Will Dobbie and Harvard economist Roland Fryer, suggest that in contrast to some conventional wisdom, that the typical college applicant does not gain much from attending competitive high schools. The authors conclude;
Our results suggest that the typical applicant does not significantly benefit from attending a school with dramatically higher-achieving and more homogeneous peers….With that said, without longer-term measures such as income, health, or life satisfaction, it is difficult to fully interpret our results. To the extent that attending an [highly competitve high school] with higher-achieving peers increases social capital in ways that are important for later outcomes that are independent of college enrollment, graduation, important for later outcomes that are independent of college enrollment, graduation, or human capital, then there is reason to believe that our conclusions are premature…