Accounting for Socioeconomic Differences in Delaying the Transition to College
Abstract

Despite popular conceptions of the "gap year" as a time of personal enrichment, the incidence of delay between high school and college is greatest among students from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, suggesting other motivations. This article examines two explanations for socioeconomic inequalities in rates of delay: disparities in high school course-taking and family formation. Students from disadvantaged families more often become parents before college and less often engage in rigorous science coursework. These factors (along with family background, educational expectations, and other kinds of high school preparation) account for nearly one-fifth of the unconditional socioeconomic gap in the "gap year."


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