Notes the New York Times:
The University of Michigan study, by Susan M. Dynarski and Martha J. Bailey, looked at two generations of students, those born from 1961 to 1964 and those born from 1979 to 1982. By 1989, about one-third of the high-income students in the first generation had finished college; by 2007, more than half of the second generation had done so. By contrast, only 9 percent of the low-income students in the second generation had completed college by 2007, up only slightly from a 5 percent college completion rate by the first generation in 1989.
The vast majority of the students at my college are from working class or lower-middle class backgrounds. Every single student has financial aid and almost all have some kind of job. Our college has financial issues of its own and the experiences students have are simply not the same as those that colleges with more affluent students. The resources in our computer labs and library, not to mention extra funds for scholarships, are very limited. Full-time faculty have higher teaching loads than those at most four-year-colleges and universities; many classes are taught by adjunct faculty as it often costs less to hire them instead of a full-time faculty member.
In addition, students from low-income families often don’t have the funds for textbooks or to provide them with medical, mental health and other services that might help them on their way to earning their degree and to stay in school. Students are wary even of applying for graduate school as they’d prefer not to have more loans to pay back and feel pressure to take the first job (often in retail or in the service industry) they can find on graduating.
An education — a college degree — is no longer the “great equalizer” that it once was.
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