Public Affairs Undergraduate Research Theses and Honors Research Theses

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Undergraduate Research Theses and Honors Research Theses from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. More about the John Glenn College of Public Affairs Honors Program is available at:

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    Philanthropic Inequality in Public Media
    (The Ohio State University, 2024-05) Enseleit, Gavin; Beaton, Erynn
    Economic inequality has been growing in the United States since the early 1970s. Because economic inequality has negative consequences for society, some are eager to take steps to reduce it. One proposed solution is philanthropic giving. However, there is currently little research testing economic inequality's relationship with philanthropy. To examine this relationship, we draw the case of a large nonprofit public media organization. We find that as economic inequality has grown, donations to this organization have become increasingly concentrated within a smaller number of donors. The positive correlation between economic inequality and philanthropy undermines the assertion that philanthropy may reduce economic inequality. The implications of these findings are important for policymakers who aim to reduce economic inequality and for nonprofit leaders as they plan their funding strategies.
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    Transporting Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: What is the Role of the the Public Sector?
    (The Ohio State University, 2024-05) Ignagni, Noelle; Hooker, Neal
    Transportation of nutritious and affordable food can create both challenges and opportunities for American households. Increasing the availability and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is a public health goal for physical health, mental health, financial stability, and other benefits. This raises the question of the public sector’s role in influencing the transportation of nutritious and affordable food. In particular, how can policy help to expand the fresh fruit and vegetable market by influencing distribution. This thesis examines the domestic refrigerated trucking industry and the movement of fresh produce. Based upon available data, this study uses four specialty crops, kale greens, apples, collard greens, and carrots as example commodities, due to their cultural, economic and nutritional significance. The datasets are from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS). Each commodity reports truck and shipping movement, shipping points, terminal markets, and retail markets. Using multivariate regressions, this data (2010 to 2023) is examined to better understand effects on quantity shipped and the various prices discovered through these supply chains. Based upon the results, several questions can be answered, such as origins with the highest price and how those correlate to quantity; how the shipping point versus shipping movement prices effect quantity; and what retail markets have the most stores promoting produce. Based upon these answers, broader questions relating to, comparative advantage, consumer preferences, where market imperfections exist, and economic, environmental, and societal sustainability can be addressed. The findings from these questions can help contribute to further inquiry of the public sector’s role in facilitating the transportation of nutritious and affordable food.
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    Institutional Dynamics: Exploring the Impact of Higher Education Settings on Undergraduate Engagement in Research Opportunities in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs
    (The Ohio State University, 2024-05) Reitz, Camryn; Clark, Jill
    The John Glenn College of Public Affairs is the Ohio State University’s public policy and management school with nearly 400 undergraduate students. Recently, the College was awarded an Undergraduate Research Access Innovation Seed Grant to increase undergraduate research take-up through an “Undergraduate Research Pathway.” As a part of the grant, the College engaged in a research project to assist in the development of the pathway. This first phase of this research project aimed to document the facilitators and barriers that exist within the College that support or prevent undergraduate students from engaging in research. Motivated by these initial findings, this present thesis research asks the question: What aspects of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs as an education institution promote or inhibit student participation in undergraduate research? Data was collected from ten interviews and two focus groups with undergraduates in the Glenn College, a Brown Bag conversation with Glenn College faculty, and administered a survey of the Glenn College undergraduate student body. Analysis of this data found that, for undergraduate students, information asymmetries, low research self-efficacy, competing opportunity costs of time and money, and a perceived lack of support were the primary barriers to engaging in research. For faculty, administrative burden, interest alignment, and a mismatch of incentives to engage undergraduates in research were characterized as the primary barriers. By applying a theoretical framework that combines institutional theory, organizational program implementation settings, and the theory that organizations are not race-neutral, I explain why these barriers may exist and offer considerations for the creation and implementation of programming aimed at increasing student engagement with research opportunities in the College.
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    Ritual in Peacebuilding: A Case Study in Post-Conflict Lira, Uganda
    (The Ohio State University, 2023-12) Dahler, Lauren; Nyseth Nzitatira, Hollie; Clark, Jill
    Community peacebuilding processes are integral to societal transition after civil wars and other violent conflict. In the last few decades, scholars have identified rituals in community peacebuilding activities as an important part of transitional justice and healing processes for survivors of violence. This study examines the presence and role of ritual in a peacebuilding context, using a peace circle program for women healing from intimate partner violence (IPV) in post-civil war Lira, Uganda as a case study. Drawing from 22.5 hours of participant observations of peace circles and eight in-depth semi-structured interviews with peace circle participants, the study identifies three ritual elements: 1) space, 2) dialogue, and 3) beading/making. The study also identifies two perceived impacts of these ritual elements on peace circle participants: 1) positive changes in emotions and 2) increased connections with other participants. These findings contribute to existing scholarship on ritual in peacebuilding, highlighting that ritual is present in this context. Findings expand scholarship in the field beyond examining immediate post-conflict peacebuilding efforts and formal rituals, highlighting the presence of informal ritual in a longer-term peacebuilding effort that extends beyond immediate post-conflict transitional justice mechanisms. This research serves to draw together scholarship on ritual and the broader field of grassroots peacebuilding, underscoring the role of ritual in impacting personal and relational conflict transformation. Findings overall suggest that ritual elements of the peace circles, at least in the short-term, have positive impacts for this particular group of IPV survivors.
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    The Effect of the Affordable Care Act Dependent Care Mandate on Job Quality
    (The Ohio State University, 2023-05) Stussie, Tiana; Jones, Lauren
    The Dependent Care Mandate (DCM) was one of the earliest provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to be implemented. The policy addressed the high rates of uninsurance amongst young adults by allowing them to remain on their parents' health insurance plans until their 26th birthday. The DCM has been extensively studied in literature, however the full extent of how the policy impacts labor market outcomes is still not well understood. In this paper, I aim to extend the literature by examining how the DCM affected job quality and other labor market outcomes for young adults aged 23-25 compared to young adults aged 28-30, who would not have been affected by the policy. Using a triple difference model that accounts for variation in state mandates, age, and time, I find that the DCM had no significant impact on job quality, employment status, or wage, but did have a significant impact on employment status, part-time employment, employer sponsored health insurance coverage, weeks worked per year, and hours worked per week. However, these effects may be due to age and year fixed effects.
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    Angela Davis: A Radical Intellectual
    (The Ohio State University, 2023-05) Goulson, Anna; Steigerwald, David
    Angela Davis was radicalized at a young age. From her life as a child in Birmingham, Alabama, to moving to New York City for high school, she was met with racism and prejudice. As she moved on to Brandeis University, she met Herbert Marcuse who radically changed how she thought about philosophy. She studied under him at the University of California at San Diego where he taught her how to marry philosophy with her goals as an advocate and organizer.
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    COVID-19 Vaccination Networks and Chinese Foreign Policy
    (The Ohio State University, 2022-05) Lang, Daniel (Mac); Wagner, Caroline
    Following the appearance of a novel coronavirus in 2019, extensive epidemiological work began across the world. As the country of origin of the virus, China was the initial leader in COVID-19 research. Due to the tight linkage between the Chinese government and scientific research bodies, many have viewed Chinese results with some skepticism. This link was further questioned as Beijing began a massive vaccine outreach campaign, donating over 1 billion doses of domestically created vaccines to over 100 countries. This paper explores the role of COVID-19 response in Chinese foreign policy by reviewing data on China's economic, political, and scientific cooperation and examining China's vaccine distribution network. Results suggest that lower-income countries participate very little in COVID-19 research and lack the capacity to develop and distribute a COVID vaccine on their own. These countries are also less likely to have access to non-Chinese vaccines due to their high cost and patent restrictions. Chinese officials have a high level of discretion over the distribution of their vaccine supply, which enables a vaccination network that is flexible and responsive to changing priorities. Reviews of the distribution network show patterns that are consistent with political interests (such as the exportation of natural resources, non-recognition of Taiwan, and participation in the Belt and Road Initiative) more than scientific or humanitarian aims. This creates political and epidemiological challenges for the global community that should be taken into consideration when developing an optimal vaccination strategy.
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    Supply Side Factors and the Take Up of Affordable Mortgage Programs by Race
    (The Ohio State University, 2022-05) Frye, Brandon; Moulton, Stephanie
    While housing is the primary form of wealth building in the United States, Black homeownership rates remain significantly lower than those of non-Black Americans. One of the main reasons for this disparity is Black borrowers often end up paying more for mortgage products than non-Black borrowers with similar risk characteristics. Thus, to combat this disparity, affordable mortgage programs are created by various non-profit and statewide organizations to lower the cost of buying a house for low- and middle-income individuals. Despite these programs being prevalent across the United States, little is known regarding how the take-up of these programs differ by racial group as well as what factors influence take-up rate. Specifically, there is little known about affordable mortgage programs ran through statewide Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs). Thus, utilizing data from the First Time Homebuyer program through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) in conjunction with mortgage data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, I estimate the racial differential in program take-up rate and the effect of supply-side indicators on such rate. I construct a sequential regression model which controls for both the current mortgage market and market activity in a given county and year. I find the Black take-up rate is significantly higher than the non-Black take-up rate for eligible borrowers. Additionally, I find that supply-side factors are positively associated with the take-up rate among Black borrowers. Not only does this indicate that OHFA's program may be able to promote racial equity over time, it suggests that OHFA could further this effect by increasing supply factors, such as lending partners.
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    Everyday Resistance: An Analysis of Black Women and Police Violence
    (The Ohio State University, 2022-05) Hayes, Sydney; Rea, Christopher
    Black women occupy a unique and paradoxical role in American civic life. On the one hand, Black women experience a particular set of oppressions related to their race and gender identities that systematically disadvantage them and present barriers to civic and political engagement. On the other hand, Black women have also played, and continue to play, a prominent role in advocating for change, pushing for reform, and fighting for equity and justice in the United States. Thus, in this thesis, I examine Black women's everyday acts of resistance against anti-Black police violence within and outside of their communities as well as their motivations for doing so in effort to better understand this paradox. Examining these acts will promote a more holistic understanding of and appreciation for how Black women across various social and class backgrounds protect themselves and their communities from police violence (Elliot & Reid, 2019). It will also help our understanding of how these everyday acts of resistance may contribute to broader efforts to combat police violence and racial injustice, challenging normative definitions of political and social engagement.
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    The Future of Data-Driven Decision Making: Exploring the Governance Models of Data Collaboratives and Their Relative Success
    (The Ohio State University, 2021-05) Badzik, Joshua; Landsbergen, David
    There is a growing interest in using data-driven decision making in public policy. One response to this need is data collaboratives, which seek to fill the gap between data aggregation and public utilization of said data. Data collaboratives are a platform upon which different kinds of public and private data are collected, stored, and managed among private and public stakeholders to share data and conduct analysis. Different types of emerging data collaboratives include private intermediaries for data collection and public partnerships with smart city programs. Studying these collaboratives can provide insights into the future on how the government uses data by exploring its interaction with citizens in creating and implementing policy. In this paper, we will review various data collaboratives and look at their organizational leadership, governance approaches, mission statements, and successes/shortcomings. The research team used a mixed-methods approach by first conducting interviews to develop a more robust understanding of the nature of the problems and possible solutions. These conclusions were then validated through a survey and follow-up interviews. The results of the survey showed that many data collaboratives experience similar challenges - such as bureaucratic limitations and funding shortages - as they attempt to produce deliverables. Many data collaboratives are often narrowly focused on a policy issue such as transportation, healthcare, or infrastructure; therefore, looking at other examples of collaboratives in one city could contrast with the governance approach of another. Learning more about the successes and barriers of existing data collaboratives can help interested cities and regional partners build a comparable model.
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    Racial Inequalities in Forbearance and Refinancing Among Low-Income Homeowners During COVID-19
    (The Ohio State University, 2021-05) Visalli, Katie; Moulton, Stephanie; Kogan, Vladimir
    The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent job loss exacerbated racial economic inequalities in the US. These economic inequalities threaten to worsen racial inequalities in the housing market. Homeowners suffering a loss of income due to the pandemic may opt into forbearance to halt mandatory mortgage payments, which prevented many foreclosures. Borrowers who remained current throughout the pandemic were able to take advantage of record low market mortgage rates and refinance to a lower mortgage interest rate and lower monthly payments. A challenge when studying racial inequality in housing is the confounding effect of loan characteristics, which are correlated with race. In this study many loan characteristics are held constant because all loans are originated by the Ohio Housing Financing Agency (OHFA). This study I use OHFA data on loan level monthly performance during the COVID-19 pandemic of loans originated since 2015. I run a multinomial logistic panel regression with monthly mortgage outcomes of default, prepaying, forbearance, and staying current as competing risks. Holding constant loan traits by virtue of the sample and controlling for financial and demographic characteristics, I find that Black homeowners in the sample were more likely to opt into forbearance and less likely to refinance than white homeowners during the pandemic. These differences in mortgage outcomes during the pandemic may lead to disproportionate defaults and foreclosures among Black homeowners after forbearance is over.
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    Mobility Access and Transit Infrastructure Impacts on Socioeconomic Disparity
    (The Ohio State University, 2020-12) Han, Jaehyun; Hightower, Rudy II; Raadschelders, Jos
    Mobility not only means freedom to move, but also increase in potentials and access to new opportunities. Humanity has migrated in both micro- and macro-scale throughout history for various reasons, but most notably for survival and pursuit of more livable life. As mobilization is an important factor for increased economic activities, advancing local travel capability of individuals has been stressed in the realm of public policy, as well as the necessity to resolve the issues involved. The relationship between public transit and poverty is proven to exist, but how to more effectively implement transportation network and infrastructure given such issue remains as an ongoing process. Meanwhile, the world continues to evolve and new technologies and initiatives emerge, so do problems. The ancient Silk Road and the recent China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) illustrate humanity's never-ending quest for movement and development and consequentially have brought up many questions and concerns; some of them include if such development of transportation infrastructure will benefit populations disproportionately or indiscriminatory and if it will further escalate the socioeconomic disparity amongst the populations. Thus, the BRI-related transportation projects will likely add another dimension to the current issues regarding transportation and poverty if they fail to address the concerns appropriately. This research paper first focuses on the case of Columbus, Ohio by examining how its current transportation, especially as the city emphasizes the ongoing city-wide initiative called Smart Columbus, is serving its mission in improving the connection between the vulnerable population and more economic activities. Then, the countries that are involved in BRI are studies for a broader scope of comparative analysis. By analyzing the current status of the transit access for low-income populations as well as the predicted outcomes from the initiatives, this research aims to suggest some potential solutions that could be beneficial in improving the systems, but also in reducing the socioeconomic disparity, ultimately.
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    Analyzing the Connection between Social Isolation and Deaths of Despair in Ohio
    (The Ohio State University, 2020-05) Listisen, Stephen; Clark, Jill
    This paper examines the potential connection between social isolation and deaths of despair in the state of Ohio using data from 2016. The emergence of an upward trend in deaths caused by suicide, alcohol-abuse, and drug overdoses presents the United States with a pervasive and cross-cutting problem that is believed to have caused the first decline in American life expectancy in decades. Over the past five years, Ohio, in particular, has been significantly impacted by the scourge of so-called 'deaths of despair.' At the same time, in an increasingly connected world, health behaviors have a more profound impact on individual, community, and population health than ever before; while technological and societal advances allow people to be more connected to one another than ever before, the traditional concept of community in the United States is less and less part of Americans' everyday lives. Social isolation, however, is an increasingly prominent adverse health behavior that is being observed throughout the world and is directly linked to negative health outcomes. The potential connection between the increase in social isolation and the emergence of the trend in deaths of despair informed the following questions: What is the relationship, if any, between social isolation and deaths of despair in Ohio's 88 counties? Are there differences in relationships between social isolation and specific types of deaths of despair in Ohio's 88 counties? Utilizing multivariate regression modeling, statistical analysis was performed on a dataset consisting of rates of mortality, social connectedness, and population characteristics for each of Ohio's 88 counties to evaluate the potential for a link between social isolation and deaths of despair. The results showed that while there is not a correlation between social connectedness and deaths of despair, counties with high comparative unemployment rates and populations of Ohioans over the age of sixty-five have higher rates of deaths of despair. Additionally, it was found that social isolation is significantly and positively correlated with the rate of drug overdoses per county. The absence of an explicit connection between social isolation and deaths of despair in this study, however, scrutinizes how social connectedness and social relationships are measured in empirical studies. In conclusion, it is recommended that future research on social isolation include both physical and digital measures of social connectedness and closely examine the relationship between social isolation and deaths of despair to conditions of aging and unemployment.
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    Infant Mortality and Issue Framing in South Linden, Columbus
    (The Ohio State University, 2019-05) Simmons, Megan; Clark, Jill
    When public-private partnerships are utilized as a tool for proposing policy solutions to “wicked problems” in cities, frame asymmetry can arise as a result of competing stakeholder interpretations of the problem itself. In the case of Columbus, Ohio, a community health partnership was created to address the growing infant mortality crisis in neighborhoods such as South Linden. This approach to developing a city-wide policy solution brought about the following questions: How are the mobility needs of pregnant women in South Linden, an area notable for high rates of infant mortality, assessed by public decision makers? How does this differ from the ways in which these needs are assessed by service providers? If there are differences between the ways in which service providers and decision makers frame the issue of infant mortality reduction, are there differences between perceptions of resource accessibility and neighborhood needs for reducing infant mortality? Using a purposive, theoretical sampling approach to select key informants from pools of both decision makers and service providers directly related to the infant mortality crisis, key informant interviews were conducted to better understand how each group framed the issue of infant mortality, and how, if at all, these frames differed by informant groups. It was found that while decision makers in Columbus were more focused on addressing the infant mortality crisis through a series of mobility innovations, service providers spoke to the importance of the built environment and accessible neighborhood resources as a key part of reducing mortality rates. As a result, it is recommended that the community health partnership engage in frame reconciliation techniques to better address the asymmetries in their policy goals and issue framing.
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    NASA Field Center Governance: An examination of NASA’s funding – mission mismatch, organizational rigidity, and the proposed solution of transitioning field centers to the Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) model
    (The Ohio State University, 2019-05) Edwards, Colin; Horack, John
    This paper seeks to identify the budgetary and structural changes in the Agency and changes in the political environment that highlight the development of a misalignment between these variables and the Agency’s current mission and purpose. NASA’s missions and strategic goals have expanded since the Apollo era. However, its budget has substantially decreased in real dollars and as a percent of federal expenditures. The alignment of presidential and congressional vision is also largely diminished. Finally, the Agency’s infrastructure and organizational structure remain essentially the same as it was 50 years ago. Highlighting this disconnect will proceed through an examination of 1) the Agency’s budget decline; 2) historical changes in its organizational model, highlighting the rigidity of NASA’s management structure; 3) a discussion of the changes in political discourse concerning the Agency and the competing priorities of political parties and branches of government; and 4) an analysis of NASA stakeholders’ values and objectives, and each group’s power to and interest in determining NASA’s organizational structure. This paper will then explore one of many potential solutions to some of NASA’s problems that periodically crops up in executive-level discussions of NASA’s performance; transitioning NASA field centers to a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) model. This exploration will begin by defining, providing the history and genesis of, and the legal basis for FFRDCs. Following, is an examination of variations in the FFRDC model, possible variations of implementation, an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of converting field centers to FFRDCs, and an examination of the barriers to implementation. A summary and final recommendation will then be provided based on this comprehensive analysis.
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    The Impact of Measuring and Publicizing Teacher Value-Added on Teacher Turnover and School Performance: The Case of Ohio's 2011 Value-Added Pilot Program
    (The Ohio State University, 2018-05) Packis, Eleni; Lavertu, Stéphane
    Research has shown that teacher quality--as measured by the annual test score gains of their students--is an important predictor of students' educational and life outcomes. As a result, teacher evaluation systems increasingly employ student test score gains, otherwise known as teacher "value added" scores. Unfortunately, there has not been much research into whether a school and district's use of these evaluation systems actually leads to an improvement in student achievement. This study examines a unique pilot program in Ohio that brought value-added measurement methods to a sample of districts in 2011, which enables a comparison of outcomes between districts that did and did not utilize value-added metrics. Additionally, because individual teacher value-added scores were published in a prominent newspaper shortly thereafter, this case allows for the estimation of the impact of publishing teacher evaluations on teacher turnover and the performance of school districts. The results indicate that schools that participated in the study and had teachers' scores published experienced greater teacher turnover and higher student achievement gains than schools that did not. Specifically, immediately after the pilot began in 2011, the average student in a participating school experienced the equivalent of almost 9 additional "days of learning" per year as compared to the average student in a school that did not participate. Then, in 2014--immediately after the public dissemination of test scores--student achievement increased by a similar 8 additional days' worth of learning. The analysis also reveals that low-rated teachers left at higher rates than high-rated teachers during these years, which is consistent with the notion that improvements in teacher quality are responsible for students' achievement gains.
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    Changing Campus Culture: A policy scan of campus sexual violence prevention and response procedures on Ohio’s campuses
    (The Ohio State University, 2017-05) Hudacek, Sarah; Girth, Amanda; Nemeth, Julianna
    Estimates of the prevalence of campus sexual violence suggest that 1 in 5 females and 1 in 16 males will be sexually assaulted during college. However, only about 20 percent of campus sexual assaults are reported to authorities and only 27 percent of women who said they experienced sexual assault believed the assault met the legal definition of rape. In 2015, in response to high rates of sexual violence on Ohio’s campuses and marked inconsistencies in response procedures, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) released the "Changing Campus Culture" Report (the Report), which included recommendations for preventing and responding to sexual violence. Institutions could opt-in to participate in this initiative. The purpose of this research is to determine the extent to which Ohio’s colleges and universities complied with the recommendations outlined in the Report. A policy scan of 14 public institutions and 14 private institutions in Ohio was conducted, once in Spring 2016, before ODHE's compliance deadline, and again in Fall 2016, after the compliance deadline. Policies are a method for ensuring accountability at the institutional level, and serve as an institution’s official strategy for addressing an issue on campus. In light of this, each institution’s Title IX and Sexual Misconduct policies were analyzed to measure the extent to which they met the recommendations set forth in the Report. The results show that while most institutions had policies that met the Report's recommendations that focused on response to sexual violence after it has occurred, only a small number of institutions included information in their policies about preventive and educational actions, such as the administration of a campus climate survey, comprehensive training programs, or a campus awareness campaign. Many policies contained negligent errors, were vague and lacked concrete information for action, or were not conveniently accessible.
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    High School Foreign Language and Postsecondary Achievement
    (The Ohio State University, 2015-12) Davis, Natalie; Lavertu, Stéphane
    Foreign language courses have long been a staple in the American high school experience. Although a requirement for admissions to most 4-year colleges in Ohio, foreign language is not a requirement by the state for high school graduation. Do foreign language courses impact postsecondary achievement? Research suggests that studying foreign language has a positive impact on other coursework and has been linked to improvements in standardized test scores; however, little research shows a direct link between high school coursework and postsecondary success. This study is the first to compare educational outcomes of different levels of foreign language attainment for Ohio students. Using a dataset of Ohio State University students over the period 2000-2008, the analysis indicates that students who have studied foreign language in high school experience higher grade point averages and graduation rates than students who do not study foreign language or earn few foreign language credits. Students of color particularly benefit from earning at least three foreign language credits in high school. This information may assist policymakers and public administrators in decision-making as it pertains to K-12 and post-secondary alignment.
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    Capital Improvement Connection to Student Cost at The Ohio State University Columbus Campus
    (The Ohio State University, 2014-05) Stepp, Taylor; Kirschner, Charlotte
    Abstract. Capital Improvement Connection to Student Cost at The Ohio State University Columbus Campus. Taylor Stepp. Capital improvement expenditures at The Ohio State University have increased greatly over the last four years due to a $2.4 billion capital plan. This paper asks the question; what is the relationship between capital improvements on the Columbus Campus of The Ohio State University and student cost? Using Ohio State University budgets from 1983-2013 it was found that the correlation between capital improvement expenditures and student cost was not statistically significant. There were strong correlation between university expenditures, enrollment and student cost. The results have lead to policy recommendations that not only seek to minimize student debt, but also to invest in the core of the academic mission of the university and provide fiscal stewardship of the university.
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    High School Options and Postsecondary Success
    (The Ohio State University, 2014-05) Crawford, William; Lavertu, Stéphane
    There are several high school options in the United States, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, and secular and non-secular private schools. Studies analyzing K-12 educational outcomes indicate that these options vary in their college preparatory curriculums. But very few studies examine which high school option best prepares students for success in college, and those that do focus on high school completion, college enrollment, or first-year college performance. Using data from all in-state students who enrolled in one of the U.S.’s largest public universities from 2000 through 2008, this study is the first to compare the post-secondary educational performance of students by high school sector. Holding constant student academic ability, socio-economic background, and ethnicity, the results indicate that attending non-secular high schools—particularly, Catholic high schools—corresponds to greater post-secondary GPAs, a higher probability of graduation, and shorter college completion times. The benefits of attending Catholic schools are particularly pronounced for low-income and minority students. This information will assist policymakers, university administrators, parents, and students as they look to improve the post-secondary educational performance of U.S. students—particularly low-income and minority students.