Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education PhD, Joint with San Diego State University


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David E. Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Valerie Ooka Pang

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Thomas F. Luschei

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Luke Duesbery

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2023 Chia S Her


Asian Americans, Postsecondary education, Social capital, Socioeconomic status

Subject Categories



Asian Americans are generally perceived to be disproportionately enrolled in four-year postsecondary education institutions despite evidence of Asian Americans being concentrated at both two-year and four-year postsecondary education institutions. This perception of Asian Americans has contributed to limited attention to Asian Americans’ transition to college. To better understand the transition to college for Asian Americans, this study explored if social capital is related to four-year college enrollment and the highest level of educational expectation. Whites were included in the study for comparative purposes.

The main research question focuses on the extent demographic characteristics, access to, and mobilization of social capital from the social networks of family, peers, and school predict enrollment in a four-year postsecondary education institution. This study also examined the strongest predictors for the highest level of education expected three years after completion of high school. Lin’s Network Theory of Social Capital served as the theoretical framework.

The data came from the public-use file of the High School Longitudinal Studies of 2009 (HSLS:09). Logistic regression and discriminant function analysis were employed in the analyses. Balanced Repeated Replication variance estimation and replicate weights were used to able to generalize from the Asian American subpopulation sample size of 1,952 to a nationally representative Asian American sample size of 142,405 and from the White subpopulation sample size of 12,082 to a nationally representative White sample size of over 2.1 million.

The results suggest that socioeconomic status partly explains the educational enrollment patterns of Asian Americans and Whites. Asian Americans and Whites from the highest socioeconomic status are more likely to enroll in a four-year postsecondary than Asian Americans and Whites from the lowest socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status also partly explains the highest level of education Asian Americans and Whites expected three years after completing high school. In general, Asian Americans and Whites from higher socioeconomic status have higher educational expectations.

The results also suggest that access to social capital is a significant predictor of four-year college enrollment. However, access to the form of social capital matters, particularly for Asian Americans. Access to family social capital in the form of congruent degree expectations, where parents and students share the same educational expectations of the student earning at least a bachelor’s degree, increased the odds of a four-year college enrollment for both Asian Americans and Whites. However, it was the only form of social capital that was significant in explaining the four-year college enrollment for Asian Americans. The forms of social capital that were significant in explaining four-year college enrollment for Whites, specifically access to family social capital in the form of family involvement, access to peer social capital, and access to school social capital were not significant predictors for Asian Americans.

The findings suggest that the student-parent relationship is important in the transition to college, especially so for Asian Americans. Additionally, the combination of the findings suggests that practices and policies that take socioeconomic status into account and are racially and culturally informed are important in supporting Asian Americans in the transition to college.



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