Marcel HelbigAnna Marczuk

The Influence of the School Peer-Group on the Individual Aspiration for Tertiary Education


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To identify factors of college enrollment, previous research has predominantly focused on individual characteristics of students. However, less is known about the role of the school context. In our study, we address the influence of schoolmates (peer-group). It is assumed, that the more students in a school come from academic families and the more students plan to study, the higher is the aspiration of individual students to enter tertiary education. To test these hypotheses, we ran multilevel analyses using longitudinal data from the Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW). We show that a higher proportion of classmates planning to study affects the individual aspiration for tertiary education. In contrast, the social composition (proportion of students from academic families) does not shape educational decisions. This suggests that peers influence the study aspirations through values and norms rather than by sharing valuable information. These findings indicate that schools form an important socialization space in which students make their educational choices.

peer-group, university aspirations, education decisions, transition to higher education