Students from non-academic families: information on advancement.

High school graduates from non-academic households are rarely encouraged to go to college. That can easily be changed, scientists now prove.

This is where working-class children are less likely to dare to go: Lecture hall at a university Photo: dpa

Timely information about the benefits and financing of studying motivates more high school graduates from non-academic families to attend university. This is the result of a long-term survey of 1,500 Berlin schoolchildren initiated by the German Institute for Economic Research and the Berlin Social Science Research Center. For the first time in Germany, it can be shown that targeted information can influence the study intentions of high school graduates, the institutes announced on Thursday.

So far, the decision to study at university has been strongly linked to the parental home, the study says. The children of academics are significantly more likely to attend university than high school graduates with parents who have not studied. Scientists see "human capital" dwindling as a result. The desire to study often has little to do with academic performance. Scientists assume that academic children are more motivated to study because they do not want to lag behind their parents in terms of status – and at the same time are motivated by their parents to "maintain status.

High school students with parents without academic degrees, on the other hand, are more concerned with money. Many parents, for example, think that going to college is too expensive. Even with a high school diploma, they are more likely to advise their children to take up an apprenticeship because it is immediately associated with an income of their own. Yet studying in Germany is comparatively inexpensive compared to abroad, and there is financial aid ranging from scholarships to Bafog.

For their test, the researchers selected 27 Berlin schools in immigrant neighborhoods. Since 2013, they have randomly held workshops at selected schools to provide prospective high school graduates with detailed information about subsidies such as Bafog and the advantages of a university degree: for example, academics are demonstrably less likely to be unemployed and earn on average 1.8 times more than professionals without an academic education.

Surveys two to three months and one year after the workshop showed that course participants were more likely to want to study than classmates without this additional knowledge. Among high school graduates whose parents did not have a college degree, the desire to study was even eight to twelve percentage points higher than in the comparison group without a workshop.

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