Along for the Ride: Best Friends' Resources and Adolescents' College Completion

Hua Yu Sebastian Cherng, Jessica McCrory Calarco, Grace Kao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on social capital in education rarely considers how the resources students can access through their friendships affect educational outcomes later in life. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we explore how having resource-rich best friends impacts adolescents' college completion. We compare the influence of friends' material and cultural resources and their effects relative to adolescents' family resources. We find that having a best friend with a college-educated mother significantly increases the likelihood of college completion, though having a best friend whose parents are high income does not. This positive effect of best friends' cultural resources is not explained fully by school achievement or by the expectations of respondents, best friends, or parents. We conclude that adolescent friendships are an underrecognized source of social capital.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-106
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • adolescence
  • college completion
  • friends
  • social capital
  • stratification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Along for the Ride: Best Friends' Resources and Adolescents' College Completion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this