chapter  1
18 Pages


Every year, many thousands of middle-class parents take their children, aspiring college students, to visit college campuses. Most of these parents use their own college knowledge, or academic capital, to encourage their children to prepare for college. Academic capital1 is defi ned as social processes that build family knowledge of educational and career options and support navigation through educational systems and professional organizations. Parental support usually starts with reading to children in early childhood and continues with parents encouraging their children to complete advanced preparatory courses in high school, to apply to a range of colleges based on their interests, and to see what types of scholarships are off ered. But this type of cross-generation support-academic capital transmitted across generations-is not available to most children whose parents did not attend college, a replicating pattern in many low-income families. College knowledge along with other forms of academic capital acquired by individuals and transmitted by families and communities serve as forces that reproduce the elite and middle classes in society. It is possible that carefully designed and administered interventions that ensure an opportunity to attend college and provide support services at critical points along the way can empower low-income children and their parents to acquire academic capital and take the necessary steps toward college.