Factors Influencing Undergraduate Women's Educational Aspirations

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Virginia Tech

Education is one key to economic prosperity and a predictor of overall life satisfaction. The further one progresses through the educational pipeline, the more likely it is that she may prosper. However, in a society bolstered by patriarchal systems, economic and educational inequalities exist among the genders.

Educational aspirations are influenced by students' socialization experiences. Faculty teach students about their discipline. Families influence educational pursuits. Peers serve as reinforcements or challenges to academic progress. All three groups are socialization agents to students pursuing higher education.

Research indicates that various socialization agents influence whether students pursue an undergraduate degree. However, there is little literature specifically focused on women and less on the relationship between women's undergraduate socialization experiences and their decision to enroll in graduate studies.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether certain collegiate experiences (with family, faculty and peers) predict undergraduate women's expectation to enroll in graduate study and to determine if the experiences influence expectation to enroll by race. The sample included women who completed the College Student Experiences Questionnaire (CSEQ) Fourth edition. The study employed logistic regression to explore the relationship between undergraduate women's educational aspirations and family, faculty and peer influences. In addition, I examined whether the associations between family, faculty and peers differed by race/ethnicity.

The results of the logistic regression revealed that academic ability (GPA) and peer experiences influenced advanced degree aspirations. In addition, race/ethnicity does matter, i.e., being of African-American or Latina decent is associated with a higher level of advanced degree aspiration. Also, as frequency of interactions between faculty and African-American women increase — aspiration decreases. These findings suggest that it is important to consider the various factors that influence advanced degree aspiration. This is especially important since advanced degrees can be elemental to economic prosperity.

family, faculty, peers, race/ethnicity, aspirations, Women, Graduate school