Because my mom greatly values education, she always sought to motivate us in our successes and encourage us in our failures. For example, at the end of the school year, if we got good grades on our report card, we would go out for icecream. I went to a private school, surrounded by middle- to- upper class students, where the majority came from wealthy, ‘nuclear’ families. I can still remember how I felt when one of the kids in my class told me that if she got an A in math, her parents would buy her a horse.
I felt that I had to work harder to fit in and succeed, because I came from a lower-class, single-mother parented family with less resources. I saw other students around me get high grades, where I had to push myself to be above average at this private school. This could be because there is a correlation between grade average and socioeconomic status, and I was surrounded by kids with higher grades than me. (Lui and Lu, 2008)
The children in my school not only came from middle-to-upper class families, they knew they came from middle-to-upper class families. They felt a strong determination to achieve good grades so that they could get a good career because they were more aware of their role in society. (Lowis, 1971)
Oborne (1987) discusses in his study how mothers are forced into applying for jobs lower than their education levels because they only have the time for part-time work. This was definitely true in my family’s case. Although my mom had a Secretarial Diploma and over two decades of experience in the office, she was only able to get minimum wage jobs with little skill required. This had a huge impact on my grades because my mom would often work evenings when I was in highschool, so I felt as though I had no parent to help me with questions relating to homework. This led me to become an extremely independent, self- motivated, and focussed student.
Due to my class position, there was a lot of pressure to get a job as soon as I started high school, if not sooner. It was hard to juggle school work with working part-time, which could have negatively influenced my grades.
As kids, we had many books, and I loved reading. My parents were together at the time, and we were a middle-class family. According to a study done by Van De Werfhorst, Sullivan, and Cheung (2003) students that are well-read by the age of eleven are more likely to go into a field in the social sciences. My family’s cultural capital, which led me to be an avid reader, could be what pushed me into pursuing a career in the social sciences.