Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Susan Bodnar-Deren


Foreign-born students complete college at a lower rate when compared to native-born students. It is essential to examine both the known and latent barriers that prevent foreign-born students from successfully completing the first four years of college. The purpose of this study is to assess the applicability of Bourdieuian notions of capital in explaining the discrepancy in educational attainment between foreign-born and native born students. The data is from the 1999 National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen (n=3176), a survey designed to test various theoretical explanations for minority underachievement in higher education. Stepwise regressions were used to determine the individual impact of nativity, race, cultural capital, and economic capital to graduating within four years. In the unadjusted model, nativity was moderately associated with four-year graduation (β=0.760; p=0.053). However in the fully adjusted model, I found that race was more important than nativity status when predicting the odds of graduating, with African American students having a significantly lower odds of graduating in four years (β=0.576; p=0.000), than white students. Gender and economic capital were also significantly associated with 4-year graduation rates, with men less likely to graduate than women (β=0.733; p=0.000). And individuals in the highest income category (over $75,000/year) were more likely to graduate in four years than those in the making less than 19,999 per year (β=1.645; p=0.028). Parental disciplinary style was also a significant (p=0.000) correlate with four year graduation rates. Future studies should repeat these inquiries in a dataset that includes less selective institutions.


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VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2013

Included in

Sociology Commons