Factors related to college attendance and choice of college majors by high-ability Asian-American students

Date of Completion

January 1998


Education, Educational Psychology|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Education, Higher




Many research studies have discussed the factors that affect high school students' decisions regarding higher education, but little empirical research has focused on these factors for high ability students from various ethnic groups. Because socioeconomic mobility is associated with participation in higher education, the participation of minority students is of great concern to educators and policy makers. Despite the increased rate of participation by Asian Americans in higher education, they have received relatively little attention in research due to their small numbers and their stereotype as a "model minority." This study examined factors related to high ability Asian American and Caucasian American students' decisions to enroll in higher education and their choices of college majors using the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) data which were gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In addition, to obtain more precise information about Asian American students, gender differences and differences among eight Asian American subgroups were examined.^ Chi-square and HYPTEST analyses were conducted to explore subgroup differences and gender differences among Asian American students using SUDAAN (Software for Statistical Analysis of Correlated Data). The results indicated that significant differences were found among Asian American subgroups in terms of socioeconomic status, English proficiency, achievement, parents' educational expectations, and college attendance ($p<.05$). Gender differences were not found between Asian American male and female students with respect to parents' educational expectations, college attendance, and choice of college majors. Logistic regression results indicated that students' educational aspirations, reading and math coursework, and SES were significant predictors of college attendance for high ability Asian American students, whereas students' educational aspirations, science coursework, gender, GPA, parents' educational expectations, and school quality were significant predictors for high ability Caucasian American students. Logistic regression results also indicated that social studies coursework and gender were significant predictors of selection of college majors for high ability Asian American students, whereas math, science, and social studies coursework were significant predictors for high ability Caucasian American students. ^