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Brokering College Opportunity for First-Generation Youth: The Role of the Urban High School

Duncheon & Relles, 2018 / / August 2018


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Social capital research has demonstrated the value of relationships and networks to enhance college opportunity for first-generation students. While most work has focused on individual students and their ties, high schools play a critical role in social capital processes by connecting students to external college access organizations and resources. This case study employs Mario Small’s organizational brokerage theory to investigate social capital formation among college-bound first-generation youth in an urban high school. Specifically, we explore how the school itself brokered college-going resources through its partner organizations. Findings illustrate a range of passive and active brokerage strategies that influenced the quantity and quality of available resources, and in turn, the amount of student agency required to secure social capital gains.

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