Understanding Differences In College Persistence: A Longitudinal Examination Of Financial Circumstances, Family Obligations, And Discrimination In An Ethnically Diverse Sample

Ethnic and generational differences in motivation and achievement have been well-established. However, minimal research has examined the role of social factors on educational outcomes among individuals from diverse backgrounds. With a longitudinal sample of 408 Latino, Asian, and European-American students, we examine family, discrimination, and financial factors in 12th grade and two years later as predictors of persistence four years after high school, and as mediators of ethnic and generational differences in persistence. Results indicate that family obligations, discrimination, and financial burdens are associated with reduced rates of persistence, while high school GPA, SES, and financial aid are associated with higher rates of persistence. Ethnic differences in persistence are related to high school GPA and SES, as well as financial circumstances. Reducing ethnic disparities in college persistence should thus involve attention not only to academic factors, but also to family circumstances that may cause college attendance to be a hardship.