Monday, March 6, 2017

Research Blog #4: Research Proposal

Working Title
How Parental Capital Defines the Student’s College Decision-Making Process

I will be addressing the college decision-making process between students of different socioeconomic classes. With the recent shift towards privatization of higher education, it has become evident that differences in parental class resources have a great effect on the college decision-making process. Students in lower socioeconomic standing evaluate and weigh the factors that make up this process under a stricter scope because their future success is highly dependent on making the right decision; in comparison, students in higher socioeconomic standing are not as constricted to these factors because of the sense of security that is accompanied with parental resources, including financial, cultural, and social capital.

Research Question
To what extent do the differences in parental class resources affect the consideration factors utilized in the college decision-making process by prospective students?

Theoretical Frame
The concept this research will center around is the affect of parental resources. Differences in these resources have a significant effect on the college decision-making process, which is comprised of five major factors. In Stephenson, Hecekert, and Yergers’ work “College choice and the University Brand: Exploring the Consumer Decision Framework” the authors detail the predominant factors utilized by perspective students; including location, price, type of institution, perception of relevant others, and availability of programs. While most prospective students utilize these factors, the affect of each factor’s weight is highly dependent on the socioeconomic classes of their parents. Each class has a definitive set of available parental resources, which can be categorized into financial, cultural, and social capital. As defined by Pierre Bourdieu, in “The Forms of Capital,” financial capital is the availability of monetary funding; cultural capital is the culturally embedded identity of a certain status; and social capital is the connectivity to alike others in a social circle. Parental resources provide a unique advantage in college access, admission, and performance; including parental outsourcing, social connections, cultural understanding, and educational aspirations. As a result, students with less capital are forced to evaluate the college decision-making under a constructing different context.

Case, Additional Questions, and Research Plan

In Alexander and Hamilton’s evaluation of Emma and Taylors’ contrasting class trajectories, the authors deduce how the seemingly minor differences in class resources put them on extremely different pathways. While Taylor was able to continue on her pursuit towards higher education, Emma’s lack of highly educated and well informed parents during her pre-collegiate career put her on a trajectory that ended in a low paying job, a return to home, and a large student loan bill. As a result of Taylor’s advantage in parentally sourced capital, her decision to further her education was not hindered by the lack of financial and cultural capital. Contrastingly, Emma had to consider the financial implications for her future if she were to proceed with higher education, so instead of following a similar path as Taylor, she resorted to working the low-paying job to cover the costs of her student loan bill. This case study is a textbook example of how differences in class resources disrupt the college decision-making process for students in a lower socioeconomic standing. In a study outlined in “Selecting the Elect,” by Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron, results indicate “a senior executive’s son is eighty times more likely to enter a university than a farm worker’s son, and forty times more likely than an industrial worker’s son; and he is twice as likely to enter a university, even a lower-rank executive’s” (Bourdieu and Passeron, 2). The data acts to emphasize the pursuit of higher education and its dependency on the prospective student’s social origin, which stem from the everyday perceptions of social milieu. This definition of social origin can be translated to Bourdieu’s previously mentioned idea of social capital. The senior executive’s son is able to curate higher education as a commonplace trajectory because of his exposure to his father’s successful social circle. These relationships and the ideas that stem from them encompass a social capital that students in low socioeconomic standing cannot benefit from.

Working Bibliography
Armstrong, Elizabeth, and Laura Hamilton.  Paying for the Party: How College
Maintains Inequality.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.
Bourdieu, Pierre. "The Forms of Capital ." Ed. J. F. Richardson. New York: Greenwood
            Press, 1968. 46-58. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
Bourdieu, Pierre, and Jean-Claude Passeron. The Inheritors: French Students and
Their Relation to Culture . Chicago : The U of Chicago Press, 1979. Web. 6 Mar. 2017.
Carlson, Scott.  “When College Was a Public Good.”  The Chronicle of Higher
Education 63.15 (December 2, 2016): A04.  Print and Web.
Ilgunas, Ken.  Walden on Wheels.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2013.  Print.
Newfield, Christpher.  “The Price of Privatization.”  The Great Mistake: How We
Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2016. 18-34.  Print.
Stephenson, Amber L., Alex Heckert, and David B. Yerger. "College choice
            and the university brand: exploring the consumer decision
framework." Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher

Education Research 71 (2016): 1-15. Ebscohost. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.

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