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Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy


Using a social capital framework, the current study examined the effect of curriculum and cohort size in addition to parental and teacher social capital factors on public high school students' likelihood of college attendance. Using Hierarchical Generalized Linear Modeling with the ELS (2002), student and school level factors were examined on the likelihood of postsecondary educational attainment among public high school students. At the student level, girls, students with higher SES, more intergenerational closure and higher parent and teacher educational expectations were significantly more likely to pursue postsecondary enrollment. At the school level, lower percentages of girls in the cohort, larger cohorts and schools with higher average parental educational expectations and intergenerational closure were significantly associated with an increased likelihood of postsecondary enrollment. Most cross-level interactions fell into one of two categories; compensation, in which lack of social capital in one environment was compensated for in the other environment, or magnification, in which higher degrees of social capital in one environment were magnified by social capital in the other environment. The results indicate that social capital is as important to the educational outcomes of public high school students as the curricular structure of a school. Educational policy makers should consider these factors in efforts to reform educational policy among public high schools.

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