Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Andrew Lindner


In recent years there has been an increase of immigrants in the United States and upward mobility has become extremely challenging through secondary education. Higher education is deemed to be one of the most important factors associated with upward mobility and economic stability. While the achievement gap continues to widen, children of immigrants continue to struggle to assimilate and in gaining access to the white middle-class mainstream. Ultimately, the snowball effect of intergenerational low socioeconomic status rolls over on to the disadvantage immigrant children in the new generation. I propose that children of U.S. born parents have a greater educational attainment than children of immigrants. Using the 2016 General Social Survey (N= 1,899) ¬ this study investigates the relationship between parents’ place of birth and respondents’ educational attainment. At the bivariate level, children of immigrants attain fewer years of school. However, this relationship appears to be largely mediated by parental education. After controlling for sex, race, and perceived income at age 16, it was found that respondents' educational attainment is not greatly affected by parents' birthplace but by parents’ years of education completed. Guided by insights from Bourdieu’s theory of Habitus and straight-line assimilation theory, the findings show that education plays a major role in patterns related to the assimilation theory and the acquisition of the habitus. Respondents’ educational attainment is fundamentally driven by the systematic structures in society concerning parent’s education and status.