Abstract: Examining the Role of Socioeconomic Status on College Planning through the Family Investment Model (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

409P Examining the Role of Socioeconomic Status on College Planning through the Family Investment Model

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Melanie Mertens, B.S., Graduate Assistant, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Matthew Cuellar, PhD, Assistant Professor, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Background: Research suggests there is a deficiency of students from low socioeconomic statuses enrolling in college. While some studies suggest that low socioeconomic status may negatively influence educational aspirations, this relationship may be mediated by family factors. The current study uses survey data from a sample of undergraduate college students at a public university in the United States to explore the mediating role that educational resources and familial experiences might play in the relationship between constructs of socioeconomic status (i.e. social, financial, and human capital) and post-secondary planning.

Methods: Non-probability convenience sampling was used to recruit undergraduate college students from a large suburban public university in the greater New York City area (N=351) using a cross-sectional survey. Participants reported their race and ethnicities as Hispanic (35.9%), American Indian (0.4%), Asian (8.0%), Black/African American (13.0%), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.4%), White (37.8%), Two or More Races (3.4%), and Other Race or Unknown (4.6%). The sample included full-time (94.2%) and part-time (5.8%) students who were both male (16.3%) and female (83.7%).

A three-step analytic approach was used to generate answers to the research questions. First, SPSS was used to generate descriptive and frequency statistics for variable of focus. Mplus8 was then used to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to assess the factorial structure of the data and to estimate a structural equation model. The structural model evaluated direct and indirect paths from the SES constructs to Career and College Planning with Educational Resources and Opportunities as mediating factors.

Results: Findings suggest several positive significant direct paths from Parental Investment to Access to Resources and Parent Provided Opportunities, 0.264 and 0.508 respectively (p<0.05). Additionally, Access to Resources had a positive and significant direct path to Parent Support and College Information, 0.925 and 1.090 respectively (p<0.05). Although none of the constructs representing SES were directly influential on Parent Support and College Planning, Parental Investment had a significant indirect effect on Parent Support with Access to Resources as a mediator (0.245, p<0.05). Similarly, the indirect relationship between Parental Investment and College Information became significant with Access to Resources as a mediator (0.288, p<0.05).

Implications for Racial, Social, and Political Justice: The implication of the findings may be that parents should give more attention to social aspects which influence development such as putting effort into care, teaching the child about life, and providing attention. In addition to supporting families with these goals, social workers may help connect families with educational resources at home that will support parent involvement in post-secondary planning as well as access to college information. This may implicate a need to complete a needs assessment with families not only for essential resources, but also educational resources. Educational resources may allow children to learn and be creative giving them the opportunity to feel competent at activities. Ultimately this may help parents to see their children’s potential and support them in creating educational aspirations and gaining access to the resources needed to attain them.