The Transition to College from a Demographic Perspective: Past Findings and Future Possibilities
by Vida Maralani — 2007
This essay reviews recent demographic literature on school transitions. I describe how a demographic perspective, by which I mean using methods that are standard in the study of population processes, is a useful way to examine differences in access to and completion of post secondary schooling in the United States.
Purpose/Objective/Focus of Study:
I focus on studies that have been published in the past twenty years in the primary demographic journals. In addition, I describe several ways that a demographic perspective can inform future research on the transition to college. I provide several examples from recent studies that take this approach and review some methods and data sets that support research in this area.
This is a literature review of articles published in the primary demographic journals over the past 20 years.
The existing literature on schooling published in the demographic journals is thin. The bulk of the existing studies focus on immigrant children and their advancement in school. This emphasis is quite relevant because race/ethnic differences in school progress are substantial. Missing from this literature, however, are studies that examine the role of age, timing, and the life cycle in educational attainment. This perspective offers the opportunity to apply well-developed theories and methods to the study of educational disparities. This perspective can provide useful lessons for public policy as well.
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