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Dad's involvement, not just hard work, is a big help in students' college success

Parental investment in children makes a big difference in how well those kids will do in college. And dad's involvement brings unique benefits to the mix, according to family expert Brad Wilcox of the National Marriage Project.
Lois M. Collins Modified: April 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm •  Published: April 23, 2014

College success and graduation is more likely for those students who had dads actively involved in their lives while they were in high school, according to sociologist and National Marriage Project director Brad Wilcox.

"This month, millions of high school seniors across America are making important decisions about which college they will attend for the next four years of their life," Wilcox writes in an essay for The Atlantic. "Based on my professional experience talking to high school students considering attending the University of Virginia, where I teach sociology, many of these seniors seem unaware of how much their chances of collegiate success depend not on their hard work or capabilities, but on whether their parents made certain sacrifices to support them over the years."

While both moms and dads are important to their children's development and success, offering different things, the essay makes a case that dad's contributions should not be overlooked.

"I find that young adults who as teens had involved fathers are significantly more likely to graduate from college, and that young adults from more privileged backgrounds are especially likely to have had an involved father in their lives as teens."

Wilcox used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), focusing on what happened to children who were in middle and high school during the 1994-95 school year. He found those whose fathers were involved in their lives in high school were "significantly more likely" to graduate from college.

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