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Abstract

Drawing on a recent national survey of rural high school students, this study investigated the relationship between social capital and educational aspirations of rural youth. Results showed that various process features of family and school social capital were important for predicting rural youths' educational aspirations beyond sociodemographic background. In particular, parents' and teachers' educational expectations for their child and student, respectively, were positively related to educational aspirations of rural youth. In addition, discussion with parents about college was positively related to educational aspirations of rural youth. On the other hand, there was little evidence to suggest that number of siblings and school proportions of students eligible for free lunch and minority students are related to educational aspirations of rural youth, after controlling for the other variables. We highlight unique features of rural families, schools, and communities that may combine to explain the complexity of the role of social capital in shaping educational aspirations of rural youth.