Higher Education Expansion, Social Background and College Selectivity in the United States
Keywords:college selectivity, postsecondary expansion
Drawing on two recent cohorts of baccalaureate degreeholders (1993 and 2000), this paper takes a new look at the factors that influence students’ choice of undergraduate institution in the United States. The two cohorts span a period that was marked by rapid institutional and enrollment growth in U.S. universities. Yet, it remains uncertain whether or not this greater expansion has reduced the effects of social origins on college choices. The findings reveal that educational decisions were indeed influenced by socioeconomic effects. Both parental income and education exhibited strong, positive effects, which remained stable across cohorts. At the same time, students’ abilities also had a significant impact on selectivity decisions. Students who attended private, nonreligious high schools were also more likely to graduate from more selective institutions, while gender effects largely subsided once controlling for academic ability.
Ayalon, H. and Yogev, A. (2005). Field of Study and Students’ Stratification in an Expanded System of Higher Education: The Case of Israel. European Sociological Review, 21, 22741. doi: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1093/esr/jci014
BobbitZeher. D. (2007). The Gender Income Gap and the Role of Education. Sociology of Education, 80, 122. doi: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1177/003804070708000101
Brint, S. and Karabel, J. (1989). The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 19001985. New York: Oxford University Press.
Buchmann, C., DiPrete, T.A. and McDaniel, A. (2008). Gender Inequalities in Education. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 319 37. doi: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134719
Coleman, J. and Hoffer, T. (1987). Public and Private Schools: The Impact of Communities. New York: Basic Books.
Coleman, J.S., Hoffer, T. and Kilgore, S. (1982). Public and Private Schools. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics.
Dale, S.B. and Krueger, A.B. (2002). Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), 14911527. doi: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1162/003355302320935089
Davies, S. and Guppy, N. (1997). Fields of Study, College Selectivity, and Student Inequalities. Social Forces, 73, 131151. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sf/75.4.1417
Davies, S. and Zarifa, D. (2012). The stratification of universities: Structural inequality in Canada and the United States. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 30(2), 143–158. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rssm.2011.05.003
Ethington, C.A. and Smart, J.C. (1986). Persistence to Graduate Education. Research in Higher Education, 24, 287303.
Fox, J. (2008). Applied Regression Analysis and Generalized Linear Models. Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage
RISE International Journal of Sociology of Education 1 (3) 289
Geiger, R.L. and D.E. Heller. (2011). Financial Trends in Higher
Education: The United States. Working Paper No. 6, Center for the Study of Higher Education, The Pennsylvania State University.
Gerber, T.P. and Cheung, S.Y. (2008). Horizontal Stratification in Postsecondary Education: Forms, Explanations, and Implications. Annual Review of Sociology, 34, 299318. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134604
Goyette, K.A. and Mullen, A.L. (2006). Who Studies Arts and Sciences? Social Background and the Choice and Consequences of Undergraduate Field of Study. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(3), 497538. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.34.040507.134604
Grodsky, E. (2007). Compensatory Sponsorship in Higher Education. American Journal of Sociology, 112(6), 16621712.
Hearn, J.C. (1991). Academic and Nonacademic Influences on the College Destinations of 1980 High School Graduates. Sociology of Education, 64(3), 158171.
Hurtado, S., Inkelas, K.K., Briggs, C. and Rhee, B. (1997). Differences in College Access and Choice among Racial/Ethnic Groups: Identifying Continuing Barriers. Research in Higher Education, 38(1), 4375.
Jacobs, J.A. (1999). Gender and the Stratification of Colleges. Journal of Higher Education, 70(2), 161187.
Karen, D. (2002). Changes in Access to Higher Education in the United States: 19801992. Sociology of Education, 75(3), 191210. Loury, L.D. and Garman, D. (1995). College Selectivity and Earnings.
Journal of Labour Economics, 13, 289308.
Lucas, S.R. (2001). Effectively Maintained Inequality: Education
Transitions, Track Mobility, and Social Background Effects. American Journal of Sociology, 106(6), 16421690. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/321300
Mare, R.D. (1980). Social Background and School Continuation Decisions. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 75(370), 295305. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1980.10477466
Zarifa Higher Education Expansion, Social Background and College Selectivity in the United States
Marini, M.M. and Fan, P. (1997). The Gender Gap in Earnings in Career Entry. American Sociological Review, 62, 588604. Mullen, A.L., Goyette, K.A. and Soares, J.A. (2003). Who Goes to
Graduate School? Social and Academic Correlates of Educational Continuation after College. Sociology of Education, 76(2), 143 169. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3090274
Mare, R.D. (1980). Social Background and School Continuation Decisions. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 75(370), 295305.
Marini, M.M. and Fan, P. (1997). The Gender Gap in Earnings in Career Entry. American Sociological Review, 62, 588604. Mullen, A.L., Goyette, K.A. and Soares. J.A. (2003). Who Goes to
Graduate School? Social and Academic Correlates of Educational Continuation after College. Sociology of Education, 76(2), 143 169.
[NCES] National Center for Education Statistics. 2009. Digest of Education Statistics, 2008. U.S. Department of Education. (NCES 2009020).
[NCES] National Center for Education Statistics. 2011. The Condition of Education, 2011. U.S. Department of Education (NCES 2011 033).
Pascarella, E.T., Cruce, T., Umbach, P.D., Wolniak, G.C., Kuh, G.D., Carini, R.M., Hayek, J.C., Gonyea, R.M., and Zhao, C. (2006). Institutional Selectivity and Good Practices in Undergraduate Education: How Strong is the Link? The Journal of Higher Education, 77(2), 251285.
Persell, C.H., Catsambis, S., and Cookson, Jr., P.W. (1992). Differential Asset Conversion: Class and Gendered Pathways to Selective Colleges. Sociology of Education, 65(3), 208225. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2112809
Preacher, K.J., Curran, P.J. and Bauer., D.J. (2006). Computational Tools for Probing Interactions in Multiple Linear Regression, Multilevel Modelling, and Latent Curve Analysis. Journal of Educational and Behavioural Statistics, 31(4), 437448. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/10769986031004437
Schofer, E. and Meyer, J.W. (2005). The WorldWide Expansion of Higher Education in the Twentieth Century. American
RISE International Journal of Sociology of Education 1 (3) 291
Sociological Review, 70(6), 898920. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/000312240507000602
Shavit, Y., Arum, R. and Gamoran, A. eds. (2007). Stratification in Higher Education. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Stolzenberg, R. M. (1994). Educational Continuation by College Graduates. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 10421077. Thomas, S.L. (2003). LongerTerm Economic Effects of College
Selectivity and Control. Research in Higher Education, 44(3),
Turley, R., Lopez, N., Santos, M. and Ceja. C. (2007). Social Origin and
College Opportunity Expectations across Cohorts. Social Science Research, 36, 12001218. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2006.09.004
Xie, Y. and Goyette, K. (2003). Social Mobility and the Educational Choices of Asian Americans. Social Science Research, 32(3), 467498. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0049089X(03)000188
Zarifa, D. (2012). Choosing fields in an expansionary era: Comparing two cohorts of baccalaureate degreeholders in the United States and Canada. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 30, 328351. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rssm.2012.06.003. ISSN: 02765624