Bucknell Community College Scholars Program, Bucknell University, CCP, Community College Transfer Initiative, Community Colleges, Garrett, HACC, Harrisburg, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Lehigh Carbon, Montgomery County, Social Mobility
While national leaders have joined the discussion more recently, scholars in the fields of education, psychology, and sociology, have been exploring the ways in which students’ socioeconomic background affects the outcomes they experience as a result of their education (Lareau, Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life, 2003). Furthermore, the role played by the education system in creating or diminishing socioeconomic disparity has also been studied in depth (Bourdieu, 1977; Boudon, 1977). However, the journeys of students from low-income families that begin their education at community colleges and continue it, through careful planning or chance, at elite four-year institutions, has not been the subject of much attention. This thesis explores these students’ perceptions of social mobility as they have been shaped by their experiences so far in life. This includes the exploration of changes in their perceptions as the contexts for their lives have been changed. Quantitative analysis of survey results and qualitative analysis of participant interviews serve as the data set for this study. The implications of the findings for student affairs practitioners are also explored.