College Preparation Intensity and Socioeconomic Background: A Mechanism for Equal Access?

Kevin McElrath , Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY)

This research examines the relationship between college preparation intensity, social class and subsequent college enrollment using the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009. Using Item Response Theory and the number of college preparatory activities in which students participate, this study generates a new measure reflecting students’ intensity of college preparation. Results from OLS models indicate that socioeconomic status is positively associated with college preparation intensity. Multinomial logistic models show that college preparation intensity is positively associated with both college enrollment and enrollment in highly selective colleges. Moreover, average marginal effects show that the returns to college preparation are different across social classes. Predicted probabilities show that increased college preparation intensity is unlikely to alleviate socioeconomic differences in college enrollment and may expand these differences when examining highly selective college enrollment. These results have implications for inter-generational mobility and social stratification in college enrollment.

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 Presented in Session 158. Transition to Adulthood Among Vulnerable Youth