Providing a 'Leg Up:' Parental Involvement and Opportunity Hoarding In College

April 18 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Mayser Gymnasium

  • Laura Hamilton

Laura Hamilton
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of California, Merced

Professor Hamilton will discuss the question of what role parents play in producing divergent college experiences for students from different class backgrounds. Relying on interviews with 41 families, including mothers, fathers, and their daughters, her research finds that affluent parents serve as a “college concierge,” using class resources to provide youth with academic, social, and career support and access to exclusive university infrastructure. Less affluent parents instead describe themselves as “outsiders” who may be supportive but feel unprepared to help their college-attending offspring and find the university unresponsive to their needs. These findings suggest that affluent parents work to distinguish their children’s college experiences from those of peers, extending “effectively maintained inequality” beyond K-12 education. Colleges may be receptive of affluent parents’ opportunity hoarding efforts due to funding shifts that make recruiting high-paying affluent, out-of-state and international families desirable.

Used to giving large presentations about her research, Professor Hamilton will talk about her research questions, her approach to them, and her findings - all in ways that bring her sociological research project to life for a wide variety of audience members.  

This event was proposed by Amy Singer and Donnell Butler and is sponsored by the Sociology Department; the CLAS Fund; Philadelphia Alumni Writers House; the Alice Drum Women’s Center/Sexuality and Gender Alliance; the Women's, Gender & Sexual Studies Department; the Provost’s Office/Mellon Funding for Faculty Diversity Initiatives; and the Office of Student Affairs