Forging Ahead: A Study of Socioeconomic Status as It Relates to the College Transitions of Emory University Undergraduate Students Open Access

Tuggle, Kaylee (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8623hz38m?locale=en
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Abstract

Colleges are feeling the heat when it comes to diversifying the socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds of their student populations. However, low-SES students are less likely to attend college, and when they do attend, they are less likely to stay. Therefore it is worth exploring how students of different SES backgrounds transition into college. Specifically, I seek to build off previous research by studying the effects of cultural capital in the progression of students' social transitions, from their pre-college lives and the college application process, to students' overall transitions, to students' social transitions in particular. I begin by discussing a theoretical framework and supporting empirical research for the mechanisms through which cultural capital acts during each of these stages. I conducted 22 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with students at Emory University in their second, third, or fourth year of undergraduate study regarding these three stages in their college transition. I present major themes and patterns in students' reported transition experiences, particularly differences based on SES. My analysis adds to the literature on the role of SES in college, particularly with respect to adapting to college life in a particular social context.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I. Introduction....................................................................................................................... 1

II. Research Questions........................................................................................................... 5

III. Theoretical Framework and Empirical Research............................................................... 6

SES Roots in Educational Lives.................................................................................................... 6

The College Transition: Realizing Cultural Mobility.......................................................................... 9

SES and Social Bonds................................................................................................................ 13

IV. Hypotheses...................................................................................................................... 16

V. Methods............................................................................................................................. 17

Research Design....................................................................................................................... 17

Site and Sample....................................................................................................................... 17

Data Collection......................................................................................................................... 19

Data Analysis........................................................................................................................... 20

VI. Results............................................................................................................................. 21

Pre-College Preparations: Layers of Connection............................................................................. 22

Transition and Integration: Then and Now.................................................................................... 30

Navigating the College Friendship Network.................................................................................... 36

VII. Discussion....................................................................................................................... 40

VIII. References..................................................................................................................... 45

IX. Appendices........................................................................................................................ 49

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