Students’ College Choices Often Match Those of Older Siblings

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Looking for a way to predict where a student will ultimately enroll in college?

Check out their family tree.

A  2015 study shows that one-fifth of younger siblings enroll at the same college as an older brother or sister. The paper, published in the Economics of Education Review, includes data from 1.6 million sibling pairs.


“Controlling for both the younger sibling’s and the older sibling’s academic skills, younger siblings make very similar college choices to older siblings,” researcher Joshua S. Goodman said in an interview published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Even when brothers and sisters part ways, the experiences of the older sibling seem to be influential, data show. According to the report, younger siblings are 15 to 20 percentage points more likely to enroll in four-year colleges or highly selective institutions if an older sibling did.

Siblings of the same gender, and those who are close in age and academic performance, are more likely to choose the same institution.

Read the full interview and check out NACAC’s tips to help students select a right-fit college.

 Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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