Date of Thesis

Spring 2019


Access to postsecondary education has been found in previous studies to be correlated with socioeconomic status as well as with various other indicators, such as parents’ education levels and cultural expectations. However, addressing the impact of home locales and geographical proximity to colleges in addition to these individual characteristics is a crucial part of understanding college access. In this honors thesis, the following questions will be examined: how has access to college and the decision to matriculate changed in recent years? How does distance from colleges and differing characteristics of home locales influence acceptance to a university and the decision to matriculate? By utilizing data from Bucknell University’s Offices of Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid as well as census tract data from the American Community Survey, this paper examines the impact of distance from a student’s home to Bucknell University’s campus and other characteristics of their home locale on the probability of an applicant being accepted as well as on the probability of an accepted student choosing to matriculate. This study finds that the impact of parental income on students being admitted to Bucknell has decreased over the years, and the impact of parental income decreases with increases in distance. This finding indicates that parental income has become less significant in the likelihood a student is admitted over time, especially when considering applicants from different parts of the country. Further, this study finds that census tract level characteristics have a highly significant impact on both the probability of being accepted and the choice to matriculate. The results indicate that there are strong relationships between home locale, geography, and college access, therefore supporting potential policy interventions that devote more attention to the relationship between geography and other socioeconomic factors in college admission and matriculation decisions.


access, postsecondary education, tertiary education, mobility, opportunity, education, inequality, locale, distance, Bucknell University

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science


Mathematical Economics

Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration


First Advisor

Janet Knoedler

Second Advisor

Thomas Kinnaman