Study: Parents’ Higher Education Expectations For Their Students Often Exceed Their Own Accomplishments

Quick Takeaways:

  • Eighty-four percent of students who were high school sophomores in 2002 had completed some postsecondary education 10 years later.
  • Forty-three percent of students had not earned a postsecondary credential by 2012-13.
  • While only 37.9 percent of students’ parents had a bachelor’s degree or higher themselves, 74.9 percent expected their student to earn at least a bachelor’s degree.

By Katy Hopkins, Communications Staff

A decade after they were high school sophomores, 84 percent of participants in a longitudinal study had completed at least some higher education -- but many had not earned a degree or credential. 

The Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), tracked a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores that year through the 2012-13 school year, when most of the subjects were about 26 years old. The study also surveyed their parents, as well as teachers, administrators, and librarians, and verified their transcripts. The recently-released report is a  “First Look” that offers a glimpse into the many data points available for this cohort of students.

Among the 84 percent of students who continued their education beyond high school, about half (41 percent) had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher by 2012-13. Another 10 percent had an associate’s degree, and 7 percent had an undergraduate certificate. The most likely scenario for this cohort, however, was no credential after 10 years, as 43 percent of students had not earned one. 

The cohort is split nearly evenly between males and females, approximately 60 percent of whom are Caucasian. Another 16 percent are Hispanic; 14 percent are black; and 4 percent are Asian, non-Hispanic. Half of all students hail from families in the middle two income quartiles, with roughly another quarter each from the highest and lowest quartiles. 

The “First Look” at the longitudinal study also included some interesting results from the students’ parents. While only 37.9 percent of students’ parents had a bachelor’s degree or higher for themselves, 74.9 percent expected their student to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. That breaks down to 43.9 percent who expect their student to earn a bachelor’s degree, and 31 percent who expect at least a master’s degree. About 17 percent expect their student to complete some college, and 7.7 percent project a high school credential or less.

 

Publication Date: 4/21/2015


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