Rising college costs and student loan burdens have triggered national debates about whether a college degree is “worth it.” Parents raising children in the midst of these debates may be evaluating the value of a college degree relative to its costs and adjusting their educational expectations for their children, shaping future generations' socialization toward college. In this context, it is unclear how theoretical models on college attendance decision-making perform in explaining parents' thoughts about college for their children. This qualitative study elicited early perspectives on college through in-depth interviews with 37 parents of kindergarten children from one school district in a mid-sized, Midwestern city. Almost unanimously, lower-income parents with some college education saw a college degree as a catalyst of their children's upward mobility, though very few thought they could help their children afford college. Higher-income parents more often expressed doubts about pursuing a college degree or the value of that degree acquired with debt.
Year of publication
Children and Youth Services Review