Fathers Make Success
The involvement of fathers in their children’s lives makes a big difference to long-term success.

W. Bradford Wilcox


A dedicated father makes a difference to successful graduation, W. Bradford Wilcox explains in a new report from the American Enterprise Institute titled “Dad and the diploma: The difference fathers make for college graduation.” He talks with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez about what can be done to help dads help their children to achieve college success.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why is college education so important? Not everyone can or should go to college, should they?

W. BRADFORD WILCOX: Today, a college diploma has emerged as an increasingly important ticket to the American dream. The Pew Research Center finds that, among Millennials, college graduates earn about $17,500 a year more than their peers with only a high-school diploma. One Brookings study found that, over a lifetime, a college degree provides an income premium of about $570,000.

But no, you’re right, college isn’t for everyone. There are promising vocational educational and apprenticeship programs now afoot in places like South Carolina that are also furnishing young adults with a ticket to the American dream. For those who are gifted at using their hands to build or make things, there are good options out there — and the country could do more to extend vocational education to young adults with interests in the trades, construction, IT, and advanced manufacturing.

LOPEZ: Why are fathers so important to college graduation?

WILCOX: This new research brief from the American Enterprise Institute indicates that teenagers with involved or highly involved dads are 98 percent more likely to graduate from college than teens who report their dads are not involved in their lives. The figures below also suggest that paternal involvement is especially important for teens whose mothers have at least a high-school education.

I think that there are at least four reasons why dads matter when it comes to teens’ odds of later graduating from college:


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