Family background and post-secondary education

When students coming from low-income backgrounds complete high school, they are faced with a decision to continue their education, by attending a college or university or doing something else with their life. How do students that choose to attend post-secondary school compare to those that chose a different life path?

A common perception of why children of parents with post-secondary education attend post-secondary schooling themselves is that they can afford to achieve higher education and higher education is a necessity to earning a better career with a highHIST 1013 - pic 1er social position. There are long as well as short-term factors that contribute to every student’s decision on whether or not to attend a post-secondary school. Long-term factors such as family background, more specifically the education obtained by the parents contribute to the decision to attend a post-secondary school.

“Males with a parent with a graduate (or professional) degree are 45.1 percent more likely to go to university than the comparison group (parents have completed high school)” (1).

Another long-term factor thatHist 1013 - Pic of graduation contributes to students’ decision to attend post-secondary schooling is the family’s income. Middle class families live in neighborhoods that have better schools, which results in an increased likelihood that their children will attend a post-secondary school much like their parents.

A short-term factor would be the availability of credit and/or savings at the time of enrolment into post-secondary education.When the decision to attend a post-secondary school is made it is often in the short-term scheme of things, and there is considerable evidence that the limitation on available money excludes low-income students from going to a post-secondary school. Middle class families often save for their childrens post-secondary education, working class families seldom have that choice. Thus. youth from low-income families do not have the same opportunities to attend post-secondary schooling as middle class families and higher.

Hist 1013 - save money pictureReducing income disparities for low and middle income families is a necessity. The long-term goal of increasing the involvement of individuals with low-income family backgrounds requires changes early on in a student’s life. Making students aware at an early age that post-secondary education is essential to having a better lifecan result in earlier financial preparation for admittance to a post-secondary institution.

-Matthew Strowbridge

Further Readings and Works Cited:

(1)     Finnie, R. & Mueller, E.R. (2008). The Effects of Family Income, Parental Education and Other Background Factors on Access to Post-Secondary Education in Canada. Toronto, ON: Educational Policy Institute. Retrieved from

(2)     Frenette, M. (2007). Why are Youth from Lower-Income Families Less Likely to Attend University? Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada. Retrieved from


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