The Mismatch Myth in U.S. Higher Education: A Synthesis of Empirical Evidence at the Law School and Undergraduate Levels
In this chapter we address the question of whether so-called academic mismatch harms those minority students who are its intended beneﬁ ciaries. The core of the mismatch argument is the empirical claim that minorities admitted to selective colleges and universities with the aid of afﬁ rmative action ﬂ ounder when they would ﬂ ourish if they attended less competitive institutions. The argument is that students admitted to schools with academic “credentials” (mainly admissions test scores and high school or college GPAs) below those of their peers ﬁ nd instruction pitched at a level they cannot handle; hence, they lose self-conﬁ dence, fail to keep up with their classmates, learn little, and either drop out or do so poorly that they do not enjoy the career gains typically associated with the degrees they receive. None of this would occur, the theory posits, if they attended schools populated primarily by students with admissions credentials similar to their own (Sander, 2004; Sander & Taylor, 2012).