“Children who attend preschool at age four are significantly more likely to go to college, according to an empirical study led by MIT economist Parag Pathak.
“To conduct the study, Pathak and his colleagues followed more than 4,000 students who took part from 1997 to 2003 in a lottery the Boston public school system conducted to allocate a limited number of preschool slots.
“The lottery created a natural experiment, allowing the researchers to track the educational outcomes of two otherwise similar groups of students when one group attended preschool while the other did not. In decades of research on preschool programs, this approach has rarely been applied.
“The result: among students of similar backgrounds, those who did attend preschool were 8.3 percentage points more likely to enroll in college right after high school. There was also a 5.4-percentage-point increase in college attendance at any time.
“ ‘It’s a pretty large effect,’ says Pathak. ‘It’s fairly rare to find school-based interventions that have effects of this magnitude.’ ”
— “The preschool boost,” by Peter Dizikes, MIT Technology Review, April 25, 2023