ERIC Number: EJ1026796
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Under Match and the Community College Student
Handel, Stephen J.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v46 n1 p35-39 2014
This article defines the term "under matching" as the behavior in which mostly less-affluent, highly qualified high school graduates choose not to enroll at an institution that matches their qualifications--behavior which threatens their chances of earning a degree. The supporting research--rigorous, compelling, and well-intentioned--stresses the importance of high school students' enrolling in colleges that will challenge them academically. Although college-match advocates have identified interventions to increase the number of high-ability, low-income students enrolling in highly selective institutions--an outcome that certainly should be encouraged--the conversation never goes on to examine the fate of similarly qualified students who enroll in community colleges and who ardently wish to transfer and earn the baccalaureate degree. These students represent a large and growing constituency whose need to match with a four-year institution is not an exercise in preference but utterly obligatory if they wish to earn a four-year degree. Under matching, also known as "mismatch," "academic alignment," and "educational fit," refers to the tendency of some high school students who are presumptively qualified to attend highly selective colleges and universities to enroll in less-selective institutions or in none at all. Fortunately, researchers studying under match have also been active in identifying possible solutions. Recent data show that relatively simple and inexpensive mailings of strategically timed information about application and financial-aid deadlines, along with no-paperwork fee waivers for admissions tests, are powerful ways to encourage more highly qualified, low-income students to apply to institutions that are commensurate with their academic qualifications. The article concludes by making the point that for the current under-matching reduction effort to be something other than the calcification of elitism in American higher education, it must focus on the needs of a broader constituency than high-ability, low-income students. It must include those hard-working students who choose to attend a community college with the intention of transferring to one of America's premier universities but in whose path there are obstacles that can and should be removed.
Descriptors: Community Colleges, Two Year College Students, College Bound Students, Academic Ability, College Choice, High Achievement, Low Income Groups, Selective Admission, Qualifications, Access to Information, College Applicants, Enrollment Trends, Misconceptions, College Transfer Students, Student Characteristics
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Two Year Colleges
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A