The college enrollment decisions of older siblings could be an important cue to whether and where their younger siblings attend college, according to a new study by researchers from Harvard University and the College Board.
Ultimately, the research aims to determine the power of peers’ decisions on college enrollment, and siblings are the easiest peers to identify in available data.
The study found that 69 percent of younger siblings enrolled in the same type of college as their older sibling (either a two-year or four-year institution), while 31 percent of younger siblings applied to the college their older sibling attended.
Most impressive to the researchers was that about 20 percent of younger siblings actually enrolled at the same college as their older sibling.
The positive relationship between older and younger siblings’ college choices was similar across demographic groups and was stronger between siblings who resemble each other more in academic skills, age or gender. That suggests the relationship between siblings’ college choices may be more than a simple coincidence, said Joshua Goodman, an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.