It’s common knowledge among parents that your children’s friends have a big influence on their attitudes and ambitions. A recent study, published in the February 2013 American Educational Research Journal, suggests that perhaps parents should be even more concerned with their children’s friends’ parents. Hua-Yu Cherng and his colleagues Jessica Calarco and Grace Kao have found that the educational attainment level of the mother of a child’s best friend has a surprisingly powerful effect on the likelihood that the student will complete college. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Cherng, Calarco and Kao set out to trace the impact that having “resource-rich” best friends has on college completion.
Cherng and his colleagues endeavored to isolate from the survey data the effects of both the material and cultural resources of best friends on college completion1. They found that a best friends’ cultural resources (as measured by having a mother with a 4-year college degree) and economic resources (as measured by household income both have a significant positive effect on college completion, but the effect of friends’ cultural resources is much stronger. In fact, according to Cherng, “having a best friend with a college-educated mother more than doubles an adolescent’s odds of completing college.” 2
KEYWORDS: Education, People, Social Action & Community Engagement, College, FSG
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