The Effects of Parents' Education Levels on Students' Persistence in College
This study examines the effects of parental educational attainment levels on students' first-to-second year persistence in college. Data for the present study are drawn from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002), sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics. Logistic regression analysis is used to assess the influence of parents' highest completed years of schooling on the likelihood that their college freshman remains enrolled through his or her sophomore years - the length of the observation period available in the ELS data. The results indicate that holding other variables constant, students whose parents have higher levels of educational attainment are more likely to persist than those whose parents have lower levels of education. Specifically, students whose parents completed college are at least 2.5 times more likely to remain enrolled for the first two years of college than students whose parents did not. The primary mechanisms of this effect are parents' aspirations for kids, students' expectations for themselves, and parental engagement. This paper concludes with a discussion of implications for higher education retention policies and further research.
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