Higher education institutions are frequently viewed as class equalizers within American society. However, prior research suggests many colleges and universities in the United States may actually work to maintain and perpetuate class inequalities. I use original data collected at a small liberal arts college in the Northeast to examine the relationship between pre-college social class background and career preparedness levels. More specifically, I investigate if the resources students use to obtain a job in their desired career field differ by social class and if there are any differences for students interested in a business or law career. I find that social class background is not significantly associated with how prepared students feel to obtain a job in their desired career field. Results show that students use similar resources to build their resumes regardless of social class background but that students tap into different social networks for career-related guidance based on class background. Finally, results suggest there are no significant differences for students interested in elite career fields of business or law. These findings suggest all colleges and universities may work to implement policies to prepare and provide resources for all students, regardless of social class background, to enter their desired career upon graduation.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

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