My primary research agenda examines why socioeconomically advantaged individuals are more likely than socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals to attend and complete college. This topic is of crucial significance to both policy and social stratification research: undergraduate education is a dividing line between haves and have-nots in the U.S., largely determining who reaps high incomes, job satisfaction, health, and happiness. In related research, I examine racial inequality in college attendance, college completion, and post-college outcomes like debt.

My first article from this research strand, published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, examines whether selective attrition based on noncognitive skills can explain waning social background effects on the completion of successively later schooling transitions.

The second article, published in Socius, examines (1) whether an individual is more likely to attend college if an older sibling has already attended and (2) whether the effect varies with respect to parental education.

The third article, published in Research in Higher Education, examines (1) to what extent between-high school differences in students’ college attendance can be explained by high schools’ geographic context rather than the policies and practices schools can more readily change, and (2) whether this relationship is different for economically advantaged vs. disadvantaged students.

The fourth article, published in Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, examines (1) the economic disparity in college attendance in Wisconsin, conditional and unconditional on academic achievement, and (2) the extent to which various high school practices and resources explain economically disadvantaged students’ probabilities of college attendance.

The fifth article, published at Social Currents, examines whether patterns of state appropriations to public universities shape inequality in college persistence.

Two other papers have been revised and resubmitted. In a paper revised and resubmitted to Educational Researcher, I apply quasi-experimental methods to assess whether mandatory college and career readiness exams shape economic inequality in college attendance. In a paper revised and resubmitted to Sociology of Education, Noah Hirschl and I assess whether high schools can reduce racial inequality in Advanced Placement participation and college attendance by allowing students to self-select into Advanced Placement courses.

Two other papers are currently under review. Both come out of my postdoctoral work at the Higher Education Race and the Economy Lab. In one, we assess whether the disproportionate inclusion of Black and low-income students in online higher education comes at a cost for these students in terms of their degree completion and loan repayment. In another, we qualitatively describe the contracts that universities increasingly are making with for-profit companies in order for the universities to outsource their online degree programs. We then quantitatively assess whether predatory features of these contracts are linked to private equity and venture capital financing structures.

I am a research partner at the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, where I am collaborating with data scientists and applied mathematicians on projects related to criminal sentencing disparities, diversity statements in academic hiring, and mathematical applications of intersectionality theory. In this interdisciplinary work, I contribute expertise in social stratification and econometrics. In one of these projects, published at PLoS One, we curated the first large-scale, free, public database that includes federal criminal cases and the name of the judge who heard each case.

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