Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association edition:70 location:Chicago date:12-15 April 2012
There is a strong ongoing debate about the impact of higher education experiences on political attitudes and behaviors. While some authors assume a direct socialization effect of the educational experience, others have argued that education should be seen as a mere proxy variable for socio-economic status and pre-adult socialization experiences. In this paper we use a five-year Belgian panel study (BPPS, 2006-2011, n= 1,596) that tracked respondents between the ages of 16 and 21. Using a hierarchical linear model of repeated measurements, we are able to demonstrate that differences between future students and non-students are already present and stable at the age of 16. Significant determinants were school track and educational goal. The inclusion of actual educational status in the model (at age 21), however, rendered the effect of educational goal not significant. The results suggest that students already during high school actively prepare for and acquire a value pattern that is congruent with their future status. Ultimately, however, this effect is dependent on the fact whether they actually enroll in college or not.