But a growing movement of nonprofit talent hunters and advisers is seeking to raise the ambitions of disadvantaged students and connect them with premier colleges, attacking a widespread problem researchers call “undermatching.” Some are helping eye-catching numbers of students land at colleges with low admission rates, including Georgetown University in Washington.
.. Most disadvantaged students with strong academic credentials “just don’t get why it is that they should be interested in applying to a selective college,” said Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford University economist. They take one look at the sticker price of private colleges, often exceeding $60,000 a year, and write them off. They don’t realize financial aid can put schools with small class sizes and high graduation rates within their reach. Instead, Hoxby said, these students focus on community colleges or others they see as accessible, inexpensive and convenient.
.. in a 2012 study that at least 25,000 low-income students a year, and probably 35,000, rank in the top 10 percent on SAT or ACT admission test scores and have at least an A-minus average. Most of them, Hoxby and Avery found, do not apply to any selective college — rendering them effectively invisible to admissions officers.
.. The Hoxby-Avery study rang alarms. It suggested selective colleges were overlooking legions of deserving students.