Sociological research on students’ academic success in college emphasizes pre-college capital and and the capital gained at college. Guided by these insights, this study asks which specific factors most impact students’ academic success at Hamilton College. In order to determine this my research will focus on academic background, family background, peer networks and how Hamilton students define academic success. Drawing on interview data collected from Hamilton seniors, I find that family background, academic background, and peer networks all have significant effects on students’ academically at Hamilton. It is also noted that Hamilton does a great job of integrating students and pushing them all to higher levels through both opportunity programs and the rigorous curriculum. This data also allows me to discover how students’ definitions of academic success change over time, often in ways that do not fit preconceptions of college success for Hamilton seniors. This study provides a deeper understanding of academic achievement and how its students define it, with important implications for the administration at Hamilton College.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson, Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.