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Working paper

Does Shadow Education Help Students Prepare for College?

High school students, across the world, prepare for college by participating in shadow education. Despite substantial investments in shadow education, however, little is known about whether it helps students prepare for college. The goal of our study is to provide rigorous evidence about the causal impacts of participating in shadow education on college preparation. We analyze unique data from Russia using a cross-subject student fixed effects model. We find that participating in shadow education positively impacts high-achieving students but not low-achieving students. Participating in shadow education further does not lead students to substitute time away from other out-of-school studies. Instead, the results suggest that low-achieving students participate in low-quality shadow education, which, in turn, contributes to inequality in college access.