Social Capital of Non-traditional Students at a German University. Do Traditional and Non-traditional Students Access Different Social Resources?

Tobias Brändle, Julia Häuberer


Social capital is of particular value for the acquisition of education. Not only does it prevent scholars from dropping out but it improves the educational achievement. The paper focuses on access to social resources by traditional and non-traditionals students at a Germany University and asks if there are group differences considering this important precondition of academic achievement. We assess students’ access to social capital with an abbreviated and adjusted version of van der Gaag and Snijders’ (2005) Resource Generator. We compare the access to social capital among traditional and non-traditional students and take a close look at the effects of social origin on the availability and structure of social capital.

Non-traditional students are a group of students which did not attain a general qualification for university entrance, but instead were accepted for university studies by completing an entrance examination. Before commencing university studies, they often completed an apprenticeship and worked for some years. Because of their different educational careers and living conditions, we expect that non-traditional and traditional students access social capital in different parts of their social networks. Our results indicate that the different educational backgrounds of students impact their access to social capital. However multivariate analyses illustrate that most differences in social capital access can be put down to diverging group compositions. Core determinants of the social capital access are socio-economic background and vocational education: Students from higher socio-economic backgrounds and students who completed vocational education have access to more social capital than their fellow students.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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