The Chronicle of Higher Education website this morning had a feature article titled “The $6 Solution,” which focuses on a college access issue known as “undermatching.” Undermatching is the notion that some high-achieving students, usually those from low-income families, enroll in colleges that are less-selective in admissions and below their potential skill level. The reason undermatching matters, according to those who are researching the phenomenon, is because attending less-selective colleges generally lowers the odds that a low-income student will complete a college degree.
Even before this article in the Chronicle, undermatching had received quite a bit of publicity. A front-page article on the phenomenon in The New York Times last March was followed by a piece in the Sunday Review section of the same paper a couple of weeks later. In January, President Obama held a White House Summit on college access, where undermatching was prominently featured (the photo above is from that summit).
This week I gave a keynote address at the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education. The meeting in New Orleans had approximately 1,000 attendees, most of whom were marketing and communications professionals in colleges and universities, the remainder largely representatives of firms that sell marketing services and products to higher education institutions. The organizers were encouraging attendees to tweet throughout the conference, and one of the sponsors was offering a prize to tweeters (though it wasn’t clear whether the prize was going to the most prolific tweeter, the most salient, or perhaps the luckiest).
My talk was the luncheon keynote, and the lunch was a Thanksgiving meal – just what every after-lunch speaker wants, a large dose of tryptophan delivered to the audience. I joked to the person introducing me that they might as well have put a football game on the large screens flanking the stage, that way everyone could have just gone to sleep. But undaunted, I embarked on my talk titled, “Higher Education Under Attack: Why Doesn’t Anybody Like Us and How Should We Respond?” While I have given a number of keynotes in the past, and I’m sure throughout some of the recent ones people were tweeting, this is the first time that there was active encouragement of tweeting.