As many high school students agonize over where to go to college, it turns out they turn to a very familiar source for advice and guidance: their older brothers and sisters.
A new study by Harvard University and the College Board finds that older siblings have a greater influence on college choice than previously believed. In fact, one out of three students end up applying to the college or university their siblings attended. The study also found that 20 percent of younger siblings actually ended up attending the same schools as their older family members.
The researchers also discovered that even when a set of siblings ended up enrolling in different schools, whole families usually attended the same types of schools, meaning that the adult children in a family all would end up enrolling in either a 2-year program or a 4-year one.
Joshua Goodman, a Harvard professor who co-authored the study, suspects that part of the reason siblings tend to gravitate toward the same schools is because older brothers and sisters can help advise younger students about financial aid and academic programs at the schools they attend. “Regardless of how exactly you interpret these results, it’s clear that families play an extremely important role in the college enrollment decision,” Goodman told Inside Higher Ed in an interview.
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.