Alert Banner

Following the campus guidelines for Coronavirus all UC Davis classes, lectures, seminars, labs and discussion sections will move to virtual instruction and remain virtual through the end of spring quarter 2020, including final exams. Given this, the department’s administrative functions have moved to remote work conditions. To contact staff members of the department via e-mail or phone, please go to our administrative staff contact page. 

Home | News | news1 |

"Real and Imagined Barriers to College Entry" Article by Eric Grodsky and Melanie Jones

Despite increases in the college going rates of disadvantaged youth, college attendance remains stratified by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In a forthcoming article in Social Science Research, Eric Grodsky and Melanie Jones argue that inequality in access to information may help account for some of these persistent gaps. Using a nationally representative sample of parents of middle and secondary school students, Grodsky and Jones find that, among parents who believe their child will attend college, African American and Hispanic parents, as well as parents with less education or income, are less likely than advantaged parents to provide estimates of college tuition. The estimates provided by disadvantaged parents, while no worse on average, tend to be subject to higher levels of error.

Grodsky, Eric and Melanie T. Jones.  Forthcoming.
Real and Imagined Barriers to College Entry: Perceptions of Cost.
Social Science Research Journal.

Patterns of postsecondary attendance in the United States continue to be stratified by socioeconomic background and race/ethnicity. We suggest that inequalities in knowledge of the costs of going to college contribute to persistent patterns of stratification. We hypothesize that disadvantaged parents who believe their child will attend college are less certain of the costs of college attendance than more advantaged parents. As a result, they are less able or willing to provide an estimate of the costs of college attendance, more likely to over-estimate those costs if they do provide an estimate, and more likely to make larger errors in estimation than comparable middle-class or white parents. Using nationally representative data, we find mixed support for these hypotheses. Socioeconomically disadvantaged parents and minority parents are less likely to provide estimates of college tuition and, when they provide estimates, tend to make larger errors. On average, though, parents provide upwardly biased estimates of cost that are uniform across race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. We discuss implications of these findings for sociological theory and for inequality in postsecondary education.