College admissions in the United States are decentralized, creating frictions that limit student choice. We study the Common Application (CA) platform, under which students submit a single application to member schools, potentially reducing frictions and increasing student choice. The CA increases the number of applications received by schools, reflecting a reduction in frictions, and reduces the yield on accepted students, reflecting increased choice. The CA increases out-of-state enrollment, especially from other CA states, consistent with network effects. Entry into the CA changes the composition of students, with evidence of more racial diversity and more high-income students and imprecise evidence of increases in SAT scores.
Knight, Brian, and Nathan Schiff.
"Reducing Frictions in College Admissions: Evidence from the Common Application."
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy,
Higher Education; Research Institutions
Education: Government Policy