Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James Ainsworth

Second Advisor

Dawn Baunach

Third Advisor

Tomeka Davis


Hispanics have one of the lowest college enrollment rate of any racial/ethnic group in the United States, and for those who enroll, they are three times less likely than Whites to graduate with a four-year degree. Past research has explored racial and socioeconomic disparities for Hispanics and focused on educational attrition. This study takes a different approach, drawing attention to factors which positively influence college degree attainment. Specifically, utilizing a social capital and education retention theory framework, this study sought to understand how social capital factors may contribute to Hispanic educational outcomes. Using a national data set from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, I hypothesized that students who have faculty, peer and family social networks, along with participation in formal extracurricular participation at the high school and college levels, would be more likely to enroll in college after high school and complete a bachelor’s degree. I found that peer networks, faculty encouragement, and participation in extracurricular activities all predict greater educational outcomes for Hispanics, net of racial differences and socioeconomic background. Not all social networks produced positive outcomes: receiving college information from siblings and teachers had detrimental effects for Hispanics. Implications for applied interventions are discussed.