Date

2014

Department or Program

Sociology

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Thomas Cushman

Abstract

This thesis investigates the social, economic, and psychological factors that contribute to educational success. The analysis of 20 qualitative interviews with students at an elite liberal arts college highlights the complex relationship between socioeconomic status and education. Interviewees discuss the fields they encountered and the capital they accrued as they formed a habitus that was continuously being shaped by their experiences. These factors contributed to the trajectories that students followed as they developed high aspirations and continued on to university. A comprehensive analysis of this largely social process accentuates the inadequacies of educational policy that focuses on formal rather than informal processes of learning and education.

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