A Key To College Success: Involved Dads

Career College Central summary:

  • This month, millions of high school seniors across America are making important decisions about which college they will attend for the next four years of their life. Based on my professional experience talking to high school students considering attending the University of Virginia, where I teach sociology, many of these seniors seem unaware of how much their chances of collegiate success depend not on their hard work or capabilities, but on whether their parents made certain sacrifices to support them over the years.
  • This brief essay focuses on one particular dimension of these parental investments: paternal involvement during adolescence. I find that young adults who as teens had involved fathers are significantly more likely to graduate from college, and that young adults from more privileged backgrounds are especially likely to have had an involved father in their lives as teens.
  • Family scholars, from sociologist Sara McLanahan to psychologist Ross Parke, have long observed that fathers typically play an important role in advancing the welfare of their children. Focusing on the impact of family structure, McLanahan has found that, compared to children from single-parent homes, children who live with their fathers in an intact family have significantly lower rates of  incarceration and teenage pregnancy and higher rates of high school and college graduation. Examining the extent and style of paternal involvement, Parke notes, for instance, that engaged fathers play an important role in “helping sons and daughters achieve independent and distinct identities” and that this independence often translates into educational and occupational success.
  • Likewise, a U.S. Department of Education study found that among children living with both biological parents, those with highly involved fathers were 42 percent more likely to earn A grades and 33 percent less likely to be held back a year in school than children whose dads had low levels of involvement. But little research has examined the association between paternal involvement per se and college graduation.

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THE ATLANTIC
 

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