Research in Higher Education

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 132–153 | Cite as

Examining the Effects of High School Contexts on Postsecondary Enrollment

Article

Abstract

The present study is organized around the central hypothesis that the high school context affects students’ postsecondary outcomes. Drawing on a nationally representative sample of high school seniors from the Educational Longitudinal Survey (ELS:2002), this study broadens our empirical understanding of how students’ acquisition of human, social, and cultural capital at the individual and school level affects 2- and 4-year college attendance. Results highlight the normative role of high schools in promoting college enrollment, particularly the role of socioeconomics, academic preparation, and access to parent, peer, and college-linking networks. This study advances our understanding of the secondary-postsecondary nexus and has implications for policies and practices aimed at realizing the current administration’s promise of providing greater access to postsecondary education for all students.

Keywords

High school context College choice Postsecondary enrollment Access Human capital Social capital Cultural capital 

References

  1. Adelman, C. (1999). Answers in the tool box: Academic intensity, attendance patterns, and bachelor’s degree attainment. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  2. Alexander, K. L., & Eckland, B. K. (1977). High school context and college selectivity: Institutional constraints in educational stratification. Social Forces, 56, 166–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allison, P. D. (2002). Missing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Alwin, D. F., & Otto, L. B. (1977). High school context effects on aspirations. Sociology of Education, 50, 259–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bain, R. K., & Anderson, J. G. (1974). School context and peer influences on educational plans of adolescents. Review of Educational Research, 44, 429–445.Google Scholar
  6. Becker, G. S. (1993). Human capital: A theoretical and empirical analysis with special reference to education (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bills, D. B. (2003). Credentials, signals, and screens: Explaining the relationship between schooling and job assignment. Review of Educational Research, 73, 441–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cabrera, A. F., & La Nasa, S. M. (2001). On the path to college: Three critical tasks facing America’s disadvantaged. Research in Higher Education, 42, 119–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Catsiapis, G. (1987). A model of educational investment decisions. Review of Economics and Statistics, 69, 33–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95–S120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coleman, J. S., Campbell, E. Q., Hobson, C. J., McPartland, J., Mood, A., Weinfeld, F. D., et al. (1966). Equality of educational opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare, Office of Education (OE-38001).Google Scholar
  14. Coleman, J. S., & Hoffer, T. (1987). Public and private high schools: The impact of communities. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Davis, J. A. (1966). The campus as a frog pond. American Journal of Sociology, 72, 17–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ellwood, D. T., & Kane, T. J. (2000). Who is getting a college education? Family background and the growing gaps in enrollment. In S. Danziger & J. Waldfogel (Eds.), Securing the future: Investing in children from birth to college (pp. 283–324). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  17. Engberg, M. E., & Wolniak, G. C. (2009). Navigating disparate pathways to college. Teachers College Record, 111, 2255–2279.Google Scholar
  18. Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (1997). Children, schools and inequality. Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  19. Falsey, B., & Heyns, B. (1984). The college channel: Private and public schools reconsidered. Sociology of Education, 57, 111–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferguson, R. (1998). Can schools narrow the black-white test gap? In C. Jencks & M. Phillips (Eds.), The black-white test gap. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institute.Google Scholar
  21. Gándara, P. (2002). Meeting common goals: Linking K-12 interventions and college interventions. In W. G. Tierney & L. S. Hagedorn (Eds.), Increasing access to college: Extending possibilities to all students (pp. 81–103). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gerald, D. E., & Hussar, W. J. (2002). Projections of education statistics to 2012. NCES Report No. 2002030. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.Google Scholar
  23. Goldhaber, D., & Brewer, D. (1996). Evaluating the effect of teacher degree level on educational performance. Rockford, MD: Westat.Google Scholar
  24. Grodsky, E. (2007). Compensatory sponsorship in higher education. American Journal of Sociology, 112, 1662–1712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hamrick, F. A., & Stage, F. K. (2004). College predisposition at high-minority enrollment, low-income schools. Review of Higher Education, 27, 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heller, D. E. (1997). Student price response in higher education: An update to Leslie and Brinkman. Journal of Higher Education, 68, 624–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hill, L. D. (2008). School strategies and the “College-Linking” process: Reconsidering the effects of high schools on college enrollment. Sociology of Education, 81, 53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hossler, D., Braxton, J., & Coopersmith, G. (1989). Understanding student college choice. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. V, pp. 231–288). New York: Agathon Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hossler, D., & Gallagher, K. S. (1987). Studying college choice: A three-phase model and the implications for policy-makers. College and University, 2, 207–221.Google Scholar
  30. Hossler, D., Schmit, J., & Vesper, N. (1999). Going to college: How social, economic, and educational factors influence the decisions students make. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hossler, D., & Stage, F. K. (1992). Family and high school experience influences on the postsecondary educational plans of ninth-grade students. American Educational Research Journal, 29, 425–451.Google Scholar
  32. Jencks, C., & Phillips, M. (2000). America’s next achievement test: Closing the Black-White test score gap. In R. Arum & I. Beattie (Eds.), The structure of schooling: Readings in the sociology of education (pp. 319–325). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  33. Karabel, J., & Astin, A. W. (1975). Social class, academic ability, and college “quality”. Social Forces, 53, 381–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Karen, D. (1990). Toward a political-organizational model of gatekeeping: The case of elite colleges. Sociology of Education, 63, 227–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Khattab, N. (2005). The effects of high school context and interpersonal factors on students’ educational expectations: A multi-level model. Social Psychology of Education, 8, 19–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lin, N. (1999). Social networks and status attainment. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 467–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lin, N. (2001). Social capital: A theory of social structure and action. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lucas, S. R. (2001). Effectively maintained inequality: Education transitions, track mobility, and social background effects. American Journal of Sociology, 106, 1642–1690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McDonough, P. M. (1997). Choosing colleges: How social class and schools structure opportunity. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  40. National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES). (2007). Educational longitudinal study of 2002 (ELS:2002); A first look the initial postsecondary experiences of the high school sophomore class of 2002. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  41. Obama, B. (2009). Remarks of President Barack Obama—Address to Joint Session of Congress. Retrieved May 30, 2009 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-of-President-Barack-Obama-Address-to-Joint-Session-of-Congress/
  42. Paulsen, M. B. (1990). College choice: Understanding student enrollment behavior (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 90-6). Washington, DC: The George Washington University.Google Scholar
  43. Paulsen, M. B. (2001). The economics of human capital and investment in higher education. In M. B. Paulsen & J. C. Smart (Eds.), The finance of higher education: Theory, research, policy, and practice (pp. 55–94). New York: Agathon Press.Google Scholar
  44. Paulsen, M. B., & St. John, E. P. (2002). Social class and college costs: Examining the financial nexus between college choice and persistence. Journal of Higher Education, 73, 189–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Perez, P. A., & McDonough, P. M. (2008). Understanding Latina and Latino college choice: A social capital and chain migration analysis. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 7, 249–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Perna, L. W. (2000). Differences in the decision to enroll in college among African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites. Journal of Higher Education, 71, 117–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Perna, L. W. (2006). Studying college access and choice: A proposed conceptual model. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. XXI, pp. 99–157). The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  48. Perna, L. W., & Titus, M. A. (2005). The relationship between parental involvement as social capital and college enrollment: An examination of racial/ethnic group differences. Journal of Higher Education, 76, 486–518.Google Scholar
  49. Person, A. E., & Rosenbaum, J. E. (2006). Chain enrollment and college enclaves: Benefits and drawbacks of Latino college students’ enrollment decisions. In C. L. Horn, S. Flores, & G. Orfield (Eds.), New directions for community colleges (pp. 51–60). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  50. Pfefferman, D., Skinner, C. J., Holmes, D. J., Goldstein, H., & Rasbash, J. (1998). Weighting for unequal selection probabilities in multilevel models. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society-Series B, 60, 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Plank, S. B., & Jordan, W. J. (2001). Effects of information, guidance, and actions on postsecondary destinations: A study of talent loss. American Educational Research Journal, 38, 947–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Raudenbush, S., & Bryk, A. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  53. Rosenbaum, J. E. (1978). The structure of opportunity in school. Social Forces, 57, 236–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Terenzini, P. T., Cabrera, A. F., & Bernal, E. M. (2001). Swimming against the tide: The poor in American higher education. Report No. 2001-1. New York, NY: College Entrance Examination Board.Google Scholar
  55. Turner, R. H. (1960). Sponsored and contest mobility and the school system. American Sociological Review, 25, 855–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wolniak, G. C., & Engberg, M. E. (2007a). The effects of high school feeder networks on college enrollment. Review of Higher Education, 31(1), 27–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wolniak, G. C., & Engberg, M. E. (2007b, November). Academic quality of high schools and student academic achievement in the first year of college. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Louisville, KY.Google Scholar
  58. Wolniak, G. C., & Engberg, M. E. (in press). Academic achievement in the first year of college: Evidence of the pervasive effects of the high school context. Research in Higher Education, 51(5).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.NORC at the University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations