Family resources, social capital, and college attendance

Gary D. Sandefur, Ann M. Meier, Mary E. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Using four waves of the National Educational Longitudinal Survey (NELS), we study the influence of parental education, family income, and selected aspects of social capital on the probability of attending different types of post-secondary education. We focus specifically on social capital over which parents and adolescents have some control while the children are adolescents. We compare the importance of social capital to parental education and family income, factors over which parents and children have little control by the time children are adolescents, in explaining the likelihood of individuals attending college. The results suggest that parental expectations, parent/adolescent discussion of school activities, Catholic school attendance, school changing, parental involvement in school activities, and parent-school academic contact are strongly related to post-secondary enrollment. Using predicted probabilities generated by models of college attendance, we show that the individual and cumulative effects of these social capital variables are sizable enough to warrant further research as well as consideration in policy discussions of how to increase educational attainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-553
Number of pages29
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

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