Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Laura W. Perna


The observed class-based stratification of postsecondary destinations in the U.S. raises questions as to the determinants of college choice, particularly for students from lower-SES backgrounds. The purpose of this study is to explore students’ spatial preferences and behaviors as they relate to their aspirational college choices and postsecondary institutions of enrollment. Descriptive, spatial, and regression analyses of data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09) consistently find strong associations between students’ social class and their college choices, with lower-SES students more spatially sensitive than higher-SES students. Findings from this study hold implications for educational practices and policies and for researchers to advance the study of student college choice as a spatial process.

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