Family structure and family dynamics : examining resources for college entry and success



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This study investigates the influence of family structure during adolescent on college entry and success using the more recently available Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS) data of the High School and Beyond (HS&B) sophomore cohort to predict college entry, baccalaureate degree completion, and persistence in the science, math, technology, and engineering pipeline at the collegiate level. I propose that family structure not only influences adolescents' preparation for higher education, but also their ability to commit to and persevere within higher education. While traditional studies of student achievement and persistence have focused on socioeconomic status or academic ability, I explore family dynamics in attempting to explain the disadvantage adolescents from non-intact families experience within higher education. While controlling for family income and parents education, this study specifically explores parental involvement, parent's educational aspirations, and family disruption as potential mechanisms that might account for the disadvantage adolescents from non-intact families experience in terms of higher education. The findings in this study indicate that single parent families and stepparent families should be analyzed as distinct groups for greater accuracy and understanding. Moreover, parental involvement, turbulence, and parental expectations as measured in high school influence the life course of young adults in their postsecondary pursuits. The present study contributes significantly to our understanding of families, family processes and higher education conceptually, and its findings have implications for education policy.