Social networks and social class: How Caucasian, working class parents of first-generation college students experience their child's first year of college

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Cathy McHugh Engstrom

Second Advisor

Cathy McHugh Engstrom


First-generation, Working class, Social capital, College parents, Financing college, Caucasian

Subject Categories

Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Educators and policy makers are engaged in important dialogue about how to make college a realistic option for students whose parents did not graduate from a four-year college. This dissertation examined how parents of first-generation college students experienced their child's first year of college, through the eyes of 12 Caucasian working class parents of traditional aged first-year college students. This question is analyzed on three dimensions--how these parents' viewed their child's decision to go to college, how they were involved in pre-college and the first year of college, and how they navigated challenges associated with financing college. Parents' experiences are analyzed through the construct of social capital and in relation to their working class backgrounds. This study highlights strategies that parents used to get information about college and how they used this information to assist their students.


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