Attaining the college dream: The effects of politics on the social capital of first-generation undocumented immigrant students

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Thousands of undocumented immigrant youth graduate high school in the United States each year, but very few matriculate into college. These students often face financial and informational obstacles when making the decision to pursue higher education. Recent research suggests undocumented students who live in a state that provides access to in-state college tuition primarily utilize their connections to other undocumented students to gain information about enrolling in college. However, Arizona passed Proposition 300 in 2007 and outlawed in-state tuition for these youth. Through on-line research and interviews with undocumented youth who sought to enter college before and after Prop 300, I find that undocumented students employed different types of social capital to pursue higher education depending upon the political environment. Prior to the implementation of Prop 300, the relevant advice networks included classmates, high school teachers, advisors, and college personnel. Post Prop 300, resources available to students dwindled, and instead of relying upon school officials, they then turned to other undocumented students. The research findings suggest that political context affects social capital, and schools with undocumented students should focus on creating more accessible college preparatory programs and strengthening relationships between school officials and undocumented youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Organization
Volume77
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • College
  • Dreamers
  • Higher education
  • Social capital
  • Undocumented youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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