This study examines the effect of mother’s education on mechanisms whereby parents pass on advantages to their children, with a focus on the community college sector of higher education.
Parental education is the single largest mechanism whereby parents’ class position is transmitted to their children, influencing children’s schooling through the home environment and parent-child interaction. We would expect that college educated parents provide the most educationally enriching environments; however, we do not know how much or what kind of college education is needed to significantly influence their educational involvement. This is an important question given that the community college sector enrolls almost half of today’s college students, and a disproportionate number of students come from lower-income and minority backgrounds. Due to the fewer years required to complete the associate’s degree, the lower entrance requirements, and the vocational emphasis, it seems unlikely that community colleges would have the same kinds of effects on linguistic styles, parenting practices, and exposure to cultural activities that we associate with four-year institutions. Using the NLSY79, this study is the first to analyze the effect of mother’s degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree) on mechanisms known to significantly improve children’s educational outcomes: cognitive stimulation, parenting style, parents’ interactions regarding schoolwork, and educational expectations. Findings show that mothers with associate’s degrees are associated with higher levels of educational involvement on all outcomes, relative to mothers did not attend college. More unexpected is that with controls for mother’s background characteristics, the type of college degree, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, made little difference for mother’s educational involvement. The implications for theory and policy are discussed.
|Keywords:||Intergenerational Mobility, Educational Involvement, Home Environment, Community Colleges|
Assistant Professor, Social Sciences, City University of New York -York College, New York, NY, USA
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