Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

William Thomas Clute


This study examines the impact of family, self-concept, school and per group on educational aspirations. The persistent need for academic improvement of African Americans is the reason for this study. This research attempts to offer a different approach than most studies in this area. I use the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88) to conduct a cross-sectional analysis of the effect of social structures on educational aspirations (N=785). Ordinary least squares regression was used to test the hypotheses. Habitus theory provides the theoretical framework for the analysis. This theory suggests that individuals create aspirations and goals based on their environment. This study focuses on the individuals' perception of values among social structures in order to develop education aspirations. The analysis concentrates on particular aspects within each social structure that aid in educational aspiration development. The results show that high school counselors, mothers, and socio-economic status have the biggest impact on educational aspirations while school location race relations, self-concept and college expenses have little impact. This study presents an understanding of indicators within social structures that determine educational aspirations, as well as suggests implications for future research.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. Copyright 2004 Tanya Lawrence