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Stearns, Elizabeth; Jha, Nandan; & Potochnick, Stephanie R. (2013). Race, Secondary School Course of Study, and College Type. Social Science Research, 42(3), 789-803.


Race shapes many aspects of students' high school experiences relevant to post-secondary educational attainment. We examine the racially-specific effects of high school course of study on type of college attended, whether two-year or four-year, using NELS 1988-2000 and a comprehensive measure of course intensity derived from students' patterns of course-taking. Results include the presence of racially-specific effects of high school course of study, with racial/ethnic minority students in the middle course intensity ranges more likely to attend four-year college than Whites with similar coursework. Using a theory of racialized meritocracy, we also find that educational expectations mediate the relationships among race, course of study, and post-secondary attendance differently for students of different racial groups, such that they play a larger role in mediating the relationship between course of study and post-secondary attendance for White students.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science Research


Stearns, Elizabeth
Jha, Nandan
Potochnick, Stephanie R.