University students from underrepresented groups

  • 2013

Students from underrepresented backgrounds are less likely than others to apply to prestigious universities – even when they have top grades.


People give different weights to information depending on who is communicating that information. If a message comes from a trusted and respected authority figure, we tend to pay more attention to it than if the message comes from a lesser-known or unknown figure. This is known as the messenger effect.


We sent students a letter of encouragement from a relatable peer (a current student from a similar background).

Result & Impact

Applications and acceptances to selective universities increased by 34 per cent.