Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xvi

About the Author

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pp. xvii-xviii

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Preface

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pp. xix-xxii

This book is the product of the University of Washington-Beyond High School (UW-BHS) project, a collaborative research program that I directed for more than a decade. My initial plans were modest— it was to be an “add-on” project lasting only a few years. But the thrill of fieldwork, interesting new research questions, and funding from external grants soon moved the UW-BHS project to center stage on my research agenda. The data-collection component grew incrementally, from five schools for one year to twelve schools for five years, and larger research budgets meant more management of staff and students, more...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xxiii-xxviii

Although I am the author of this book, I have been surrounded by an army of colleagues, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff who worked on the UW-BHS project at the University of Washington. They collaborated with me on almost every phase of the project, from the study design and development of questionnaires to the coordination with our participating schools and subsequent data analyses. For this reason, I use the first-person plural—we—in the text. I have written the words and take responsibility for all errors of commission...

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Chapter 1. The Role of Education in American Society: Expanding Opportunity and Persistent Inequality

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pp. 1-33

A college degree does not guarantee success. Nothing really does—there is too much happenstance in life to say what is best for every person. But if we had to choose one attribute that would carry greater weight than any other, it would be educational attainment. The economic fault line between high school and college graduates in the United States is wider than ever—college graduates have, on average, earnings 75 percent higher than those of high school graduates.1 Higher education is also highly correlated with a lower probability of divorce, better health, and higher satisfaction with work and...

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Chapter 2. Recent Trends in College Graduation: The National Portrait

With Nikolas Pharris-Ciurej

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pp. 34-59

In early 2012, the Census Bureau issued a press release announc- ing that, for the first time, more than 30 percent of Americans aged twenty-five and older held at least a bachelor’s degree—up from slightly less than 25 percent in 1998.1 This story was widely reprinted in the news media and framed in a broader narrative about the continuous expansion of higher education in the United States. The story of growth in college enrollments and graduates—interpreted to mean that America is a land of opportunity—is a dominant theme expressed by American political leaders and social commentators....

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Chapter 3. The University of Washington-Beyond High School Project: Data and Description

With Nikolas Pharris-Ciurej

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pp. 60-115

The UW-BHS project originated in the late 1990s, partially by intention and partially by happenstance. Several faculty members at the University of Washington were engaged in discussions about potential research on racial and ethnic stratification in the Pacific Northwest. The region seemed different from the rest of the country—perhaps providing a window on future directions in American society. The Pacific Northwest, along with much of the West Coast, has a much different racial and ethnic composition from the rest of the United States. Although whites are still a majority (at least for the moment), the region is...

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Chapter 4. The College Pathways Model

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pp. 116-152

College graduation is an event—a moment in time—that is celebrated by graduates and their friends and family. But college graduation is also a process, or the culmination of a process, that begins in childhood and extends through adolescence and often into the early years of adulthood. In chapter 1, we used the analogy of a college-bound train to describe the sequential process leading to college graduation. The surest way to graduate from college is to get on the college-bound train and avoid falling off. It is possible to recover from early missteps, but the odds of college graduation are much lower for those who drift off track....

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Chapter 5. Social Origins and College-Pathway Transitions

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pp. 153-193

In this chapter, we move from description to explanation, with an analysis of the determinants of gender, racial-ethnic, and immigrant-generation inequality for each of the five steps to college graduation in the College Pathways Model. The explanatory focus is on social origins—a broad concept that encompasses socioeconomic status (SES) and family background. We also consider the mediating roles of academic performance (GPA) and encouragement from significant others. GPA and encouragement have important direct effects on educational outcomes, but our focus here is on their indirect role as mediators of ascriptive inequality....

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Chapter 6. A Closer Look at the Role of Culture in Explaining Educational Transitions

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pp. 194-238

Culture is one those words that is widely used in scientific and popular discourse but with a variety of meanings.1 Students entering college far from home are told to anticipate “culture shock.” New leaders often express their intent to change the “culture” of an organization or business. Immigrants to the United States have often been told to shed their traditional culture if they wish to “become American.” Societies, social classes, and ethnic groups are only some of the groups thought to have cultures that include language, religion, customs, norms about appropriate behavior, and values that guide understandings and behavior....

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Chapter 7. Work and Extracurricular Activities in the Lives of High School Seniors

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pp. 239-272

In his classic study, The Adolescent Society: The Social Life of the Teenager and Its Impact on Education, James Coleman described the lives of American high school students in the 1950s as a quasi-independent “adolescent world” in which academic pursuits and preparation for adult roles were secondary concerns.1 Although students lived with their families and attended schools run by adults, the priorities of students were centered on their social ties to other adolescents. Students lived in their own “bubble”—a very competitive world of peer evaluations based on athletic prowess, participation in student activities and clubs, personal...

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Chapter 8. The Impact of Schools and the Promise of Scholarships on College-Pathway Transitions

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pp. 273-307

In previous chapters we have examined the role of social origins, cultural attributes, student employment, and school participation as potential explanations for disparities in college-pathway transitions by gender, race-ethnicity, and immigrant generation. In this chapter, we turn our attention to the role schools play in shaping educational outcomes. In particular, we examine the impact of the Washington State Achiever (WSA) program—an educational intervention designed to promote college enrollment among low-income students in five of the twelve high schools in the UW-BHS project. The initial overlap between our project and the WSA experiment was a fortuitous event but one that offered an unusual...

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Chapter 9. Summing Up: Pathways to College Graduation

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pp. 308-340

The United States invented mass education a century before most other countries.1 The “open to all” common school was a defining feature of the nineteenth-century American landscape, and the United States led the world in making high school graduation a national objective in the early twentieth century.2 Beginning with the GI Bill for returning World War II veterans and massive investments in public universities in the 1950s and 1960s, the United States made college education accessible and affordable to many high school graduates.3...

Notes

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pp. 341-352

References

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pp. 353-370

Index

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pp. 371-383