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The influence of siblings in my pursuit of higher education

During this starting period of high school, the influence of siblings in my pursuit of higher education to school-based peer groups characterized by higher levels of parent education appeared to amplify these coursework disparities between students with and without college-educated parents.

Consequently, the range of curricular options available in high school offers both opportunity and risk. Students must navigate this maze in order to accrue academic credentials that promote entry into four-year colleges, but not all are equally prepared to do so. This interplay of family background and curricular status in high school is a channel in the intergenerational transmission of inequality Schneider 2007. Although disparities in high school education are often structural in nature, they also reflect social psychological phenomena, such as decision-making and interpersonal relations, that need to be understood Crosnoe 2011.

Such disparities in time-specific decision-making can then lead even similar-ability students into diverging destinies that reinforce socioeconomic stratification. At the same time, however, lower-SES students might be able make up some of these differences and maintain even footing when broad social networks expose them to such resources through ties to peers who themselves have higher-SES parents see Jackson 2013.

The goals are to explore when and why socioeconomic disparities in coursework are most pronounced and most reactive to the socioeconomic composition of school peer contexts. In this spirit, we analyze quantitative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Add Health along with qualitative data from a large public high school. Mixing methods in this way allows us to establish broad parameters of inequality across diverse settings and groups though statistical analysis of population data and then unpack the mechanisms that potentially underlie these parameters by delving into rich information that is not typically accessible in large survey studies.

Students navigate these curricula towards probabilistic endpoints e. Thus, coursework today forecasts differences in socioeconomic attainment tomorrow DeLuca and Rosenbaum 2001 ; Goldin and Katz 2008. Importantly, it also reflects socioeconomic background. Students from higher-SES families accrue, on average, more elite credentials in core curricula. Parent education is a particularly important component of SES, tapping into the heritability of academically relevant traits and a range of structural and social advantages Grodsky and Riegle-Crumb 2010 ; Lee et al.

Primary effects concern disparities in performance at some point that are rooted in genetic influences and social experiences up to that point.

For example, high-SES students score higher on achievement tests and make better grades than their low-SES peers at all levels of schooling in the U. Secondary effects involve the advantages of SES that differentiate even similar-ability students through the moves they make within a range of options presented by their ability level. For example, high school students with high-SES parents are more likely to enroll in higher education than their low-SES peers with similar grades and test scores, reflecting the greater resources they have to draw on to understand the system and meet its perceived challenges Breen and Goldthorpe 1997; Jackson et al.

Most often, primary and secondary effects are studied in relation to major educational transitions. For example, in the U.

About three-fourths of this effect reflects the higher levels of academic achievement among high-SES 16 year olds primary effectwith the remainder explained by the greater tendency for high-achieving high-SES students to continue academic schooling compared to equally high-achieving low-SES students secondary effect Erickson et al.

We argue that this focus should be expanded beyond the transitions that occur at major branch points of the system e. Primary and secondary effects are also likely at work at more specific transitions that occur between major branch points e. These between- and within-level transitions are, of course, related, as the micro-events occurring just after a major branch point transition—such as course enrollment patterns around the initial transition into high school—could set the stage for all subsequent micro-events until the next major branch point Buchmann and Park 2010; Morgan 2005.

In terms of high school curriculum, therefore, consider a scenario in which a student with high-SES parents enrolls in an advanced course while a low-SES schoolmate does not. Importantly, this difference in high school course coursework produced by both primary and secondary effects could eventually itself become a primary effect in the next major branch point in the educational system—if, for example, the high-SES student is more likely to be admitted to an elite college because he or she took that advanced course.

Whether primary or secondary effects are more important is a subject of debate and likely depends on the context and outcome Morgan et al.

  1. Certainly, the Muslim study participants reported experiencing more pressure from beyond the household than the Hindu young women. In terms of high school curriculum, therefore, consider a scenario in which a student with high-SES parents enrolls in an advanced course while a low-SES schoolmate does not.
  2. But it is difficult to find the groom.
  3. I wish I did not have to come to college.
  4. Women are a potent symbol of community dignity and identity. An OBC Hindu participant from an affluent background reasoned that the sense of self-worth comes from the independent identity that young women develop as a result of higher education.

This study does not wade into that debate. Instead, it takes primary effects into account while attempting to gain a better understanding of secondary effects—examining how, why, and under what circumstances they factor into the micro-events between major educational transitions. The motivation for this focus is two-fold. First, it sheds light on the nuanced sources of inequality inherent in an educational system steeped in the values of meritocracy, characterized by choice, and predicated on parental involvement—how parents gain advantages for students not warranted by their academic aptitude.

Second, it points to the importance of continuing interventions into educational disparities well past the early childhood period that is now prioritized by policy Crosnoe and Huston 2007 ; Morgan 2012.

Thus, the micro-events of transitioning from one class to the next in a sequence of high school coursework are viewed as discrete points of decision-making in which family SES—specifically, parent education—can make a difference in whether a student moves forward, makes a lateral move, or drops out, regardless of prior academic standing. Indeed, ample evidence suggests that the composition of the peer group can shape academic progress, including coursework, by passively modeling or not and actively encouraging or discouraging academic behaviors.

For example, through both processes, high-achieving peers support higher-level coursework Epple and Romano 2011 ; Frank et al. How might this peer phenomenon relate to secondary effects? Given the socioeconomic segregation of schools and curricula in the U.


That student-peer SES disjuncture could dilute secondary effects. When surrounded by generally socioeconomically advantaged peers, however, the influences of peers and their parents could substitute for the influence of parents that a high-SES student may have and a low-SES student may not. Consequently, the secondary SES effect in high school coursework that exists in general might be weaker in peer contexts characterized by high average levels of SES Lauen and Gaddis 2013 ; Rumberger and Palardy 2005.

Integrating the consideration of parents and peers in secondary effects, the first aim of this study is to examine how socioeconomic disparities in coursework play out over time and across peer contexts. The expectation is that, net of performance histories, disparities will be larger when students are first transitioning into high school and smaller when they are exposed to higher-SES peers. Here, SES refers to parent education, coursework is tapped by credits in college-preparatory classes, grades and cognitive tests gauge performance histories, and the peer context is conceptualized as the wide band of peers in the same general academic strata—similar coursemates who are a primary reference group and pool of potential friends Giordano 2003.

To pursue this goal, we draw on Add Health to quantify the magnitude of disparities in college preparatory coursework trajectories related to parent education and then examine the parent education level of coursemates as a potential moderator of these disparities. Mechanisms of Secondary Effects If secondary SES effects on high school coursework exist in the ways just hypothesized, then the next question to ask is: Theoretical discussions in secondary effects research typically highlight the resources that youth access through the social networks structured by their family SES, strongly connecting that literature to the social capital literature.

One commonality between these literatures is an emphasis on the instrumental resources that students receive or elicit to recognize and capitalize on academic opportunities Coleman 1988 ; Morgan et al. Beginning with parents, they can advise students about academic concerns, advocate for them at school, connect them to other advocates, and secure opportunities for them Stanton-Salazar 2001 ; Steinberg, Brown, and Dornbusch 1996. These resources likely matter more when conditions are uncertain and discretion can be exercised.

In such conditions, more educated parents can draw on their greater knowledge about what students need to do now to make college the influence of siblings in my pursuit of higher education later, access to others who can fill in gaps in this knowledge, and social standing that elicits more investment from and acquiescence by school personnel Attewell and Lavin 2007 ; Schneider 2007.

They know the written and unwritten rules and can work the system more effectively. This competitive advantage may matter more amidst the shuffling of students and expansion of coursework differentiation that occurs at the transition into high school Baker and Stevenson 1986 ; Crosnoe and Huston 2007 ; Karen 2002 ; Morgan 2005.

  • These data were supplemented by teacher interviews, course catalogs, and graduation requirement documents;
  • Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors;
  • Most often, primary and secondary effects are studied in relation to major educational transitions;
  • Students navigate these curricula towards probabilistic endpoints e;
  • We asked those who agreed to participate for their written consent.

Thus, instrumental resources may be linked to parent education probabilistically, not absolutely. Turning to peers, differences in instrumental resources from parents may be magnified or evened out when school peers are alternate outlets for instrumental resources. When information passes from parent to student, it is often disseminated through ties among students—they share with each other what they get from parents Crosnoe et al.

In those cases in which students with less educated parents are exposed to school peers who have more educated parents, they will have access to the peer exchange of some of the instrumental supports that they might get less of at home Legewie and DiPrete 2012 ; Rumberger and Palardy 2005 ; Tyson, Darity, and Castellino 2005.

In other words, the resources that they get from peers would more often be new, relative to what they get from their families, while those peer resources would be more redundant for students with more educated parents.

Such a resource substitution see Mirowsky and Ross 2003 would mean that the general disadvantage in instrumental support faced by students with less educated parents might be reduced if they can somehow make makes their way into school-based peer crowds comprised of students with more educated parents McDonough 1997 ; Rumberger and Palardy 2005.

The second aim of this study, therefore, is to explore the instrumental resources that students receive and elicit from their parents and peers. The expectation is that resources providing a concrete informational basis for the assessment of coursework decisions i. To pursue this goal, we draw on local ethnographic data in a public high school that unpack the instrumental resources that are traded among students, parents, and peers.

The Impact of Family Involvement at the College Level

In contrast to survey data that mostly allow the frequency of coursework discussions to be counted, this qualitative approach enables the substance of these discussions to be parsed. Methods Data The quantitative data source, Add Health, is a nationally representative sample of 7th-12th graders www.

Sampling began with the random selection of high schools from a stratified frame that were matched to a probabilistically selected set of feeder middle schools. During the 1994-95 school year, nearly all students in these 132 schools took the In-School Survey to create an individual-level sampling frame for later data collections. Worth noting is that Add Health had a multi-cohort design, in which students were surveyed 0-2 times in high school depending on their Wave I grade.

The AHAA transcripts, however, covered all four grades for all students. For example, Wave I freshmen had all four transcript years 9th-12th grades during or subsequent to their Wave I survey, but Wave I juniors had two years of transcript data 9th-10th prior to their Wave I survey, one year 11th at the same time as this survey, and one year 12th after this survey.

In addition to 25 hours of observational ethnography during and after school, a subset of 32 freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were recruited from two untracked, required courses for intensive activities.

These data were supplemented by teacher interviews, course catalogs, and graduation requirement documents. Slightly less than half 13 had parents with college or advanced degrees, but two had parents who had not graduated from high school.