Campus Social Context and Socioeconomic Differences in BA Attainment

Dafna Gelbgiser , Tel Aviv University

The recent expansion of open admission colleges increased the rate of college attendance among low-income students, but have also contributed to greater income segregation between institutions, effectively changing the social context students encounter on their campuses. Using data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, along with information on campus composition (College Scorecard Data), I examine whether and how college social context impact student's likelihood to obtain a BA. Results indicate that (1)low-income students are more likely to enter campuses with high share of low-income students, even net of social, academic and organizational factors; and (2)campus social context is a significant predictor of students’ BA attainment: students who attended colleges characterized by higher share of low-income students were substantially less likely than observationally similar students in other colleges to earn a BA. Together, the college environment emerges as a key mechanism by which inequality is maintained during educational expansion.

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 Presented in Session 92. School Diversity and Student Outcomes