Kennan Cepa

Kennan Cepa

2015 Cohort

McNeil 254B

Kennan Cepa is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and a 2020-21 recipient of the American Educational Research Association Grants Program Dissertation Award. Relying on nationally-representative surveys and administrative data from colleges, Kennan's dissertation investigates how parent borrowing through the Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) program influences inequality across families and youth. In other research, Kennan investigates inequality among youth and their families with a focus on the transition to adulthood, how educational institutions shape access to opportunities, and students' experiences with educational debt. Her work has been published in The Journal of Family Issues, Teachers College Record, and Research in Higher Education. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in History in 2010 and received her master's degree in Statistics from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 2019.


M.A., Statistics, University of Pennsylvania, 2019

A.B., History, University of Chicago, 2010

Research Interests

Higher education, family, transition to adulthood, children and youth, social stratification

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Cepa, Kennan and Frank Furstenberg. 2021. “Reaching Adulthood: Persistent Beliefs about the Importance and Timing of Adult Milestones.Journal of Family Issues 42(1).

Cepa, Kennan and Grace Kao. 2019. “Residential choice or resources? Explaining racial and ethnic differences in residential expectations and parental coresidence in young adulthood.” Journal of Family Issues 40(12).

Xu, Zeyu and Kennan Cepa. 2018. “Getting college- and career-ready during state transition towards the Common Core State Standards.” Teachers College Record 120(6).

Rosenbaum, James E., Kelly Iwanaga Becker, Kennan A. Cepa, and Claudia Zapata-Gietl. 2016. “Turning the question around: Do colleges fail to meet students’ institutional expectations?” Research in Higher Education 57: 519-543.

Rosenbaum, James, Kennan Cepa, and Janet Rosenbaum. 2013. “Beyond the one-size-fits-all college degree.” Contexts 12(1): 48-52.


Book Chapters & Other Publications

Rosenbaum, James and Kennan Cepa. 2017. Beyond one-dimensional qualifications: How students discover hidden abilities.” in Bridging the Gaps: College Pathways to Career Success. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Schuetz, Pam, Kennan Cepa, and James E. Rosenbaum. 2017. Degree ladders: Procedures that combine dependable credentials and high goals. in Bridging the Gaps: College Pathways to Career Success. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Schuetz, Pam, James E. Rosenbaum, Amy Foran, and Kennan Cepa. 2016. Degree ladder maps: Helping students make earlier, more informed decisions about educational goals. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. 40(3): 228-236.