Breaking the cycle of poverty and low expectations: How counseling activities predict college undermatch

Project: Research project

Project Details


Although selective colleges offer more supports to help students graduate, high-achieving low-income students often apply to non-selective institutions, a phenomenon known as “undermatching”. This study will examine various kinds and stages of undermatching; whether some types of high school counseling activities are good predictors of college match while other types of activities (or a lack thereof) predict undermatching; and how those activities are distributed across high schools with different composition. Undermatching is a major source of inequality in higher education. To address socioeconomic disparities in educational attainment, we need to understand this phenomenon better and what institutional factors predict it. This mixed-methods study will first examine these issues at the national level through quantitative analyses of the High School Longitudinal Survey (HSLS:09), then at the local level through a survey administered to counselors in a Midwestern urban school district that contained many of the same questions as HSLS. This local-level survey will provide a detailed context for the qualitative component of the study: in-depth counselor interviews in a subset of six diverse schools in the same Midwestern urban school district. The interviews will analyze these issues in much greater detail and provide interpretations that the quantitative data cannot. We expect to discover ways counselling can reduce unequal educational outcomes.
Effective start/end date5/1/1912/31/20


  • William T. Grant Foundation (189759)


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