The Disadvantage of College Bound Friends: A Multi-Level Analysis of Peer Effects on Minority Students’ College Application Patterns

Steven E Alvarado, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Ruth Lopez-Turley, University of Wisconsin at Madison

We use data from the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project to conduct a multi-level analysis of peer effects on educational outcomes. At the student-level, we find that having four or more college bound friends has a negative effect on a) applying to a four-year college and b) applying to a selective college among minority students. At the school-level, we find that attending schools with high proportions of students with at least one parent with at least a B.A. negatively impacts the number of colleges Latino students apply to. These findings refute earlier claims that suggest positive peer effects on educational outcomes and point to an alternative scenario. That is, members of college-ready social networks of minorities may not want to attend selective – and probably mostly white – colleges. These findings also suggest that Latinos may be intimidated or overwhelmed by high school student bodies with high SES.

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Presented in Poster Session 3