Does College Primarily Help Richer Students?

March 23rd, 2012

Guest blogger : Angelita Williams

Do colleges offer the most opportunity to students of wealthy families? That’s a serious question posed in a recent article for The New York Times, which contends that many institutions of higher learning simply assure that students from higher income families retain their privileged status in America. The article asserts that nearly a quarter of the people who hold a bachelor’s degree come from families whose earning far exceed the average income for an American family.

The article further goes on to disarm the common contention that colleges boast a plurality of students from higher earning families simply because their test scores on exams like the SAT and ACT are higher on average. The author, Thomas B. Edsall, contends that these test scores don’t necessarily qualify the state of affairs, as more economically privileged youths with high exam scores are more likely to enter college than poorer students who score equally well. The rest of his article is devoted to a clear, empirical study about the quiet perpetuation of a privileged class within the college system. It’s quite a compelling article.

So what do we make of this information, assuming that everything in the article checks out? How do we reconcile the very real possibility that many college campuses don’t treat all students equally?

From a fiscal perspective, this article makes some sense. The cost of college is only increasing, and with student loan interest rates showing no sign of decreasing, it puts an unbelievable economic strain on students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Many students have to take on tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loans if they want to earn their bachelor’s degree, a choice that could weigh on their professional life well after their time at a university. What’s more, the wages for entry level jobs has been steadily decreasing, which means that it will be harder for recent college grads to make payments on loans even after they’re hired.

With such a potentially daunting financial situation facing many college students, it’s no wonder that many of the ones who graduate are those who can afford to pay their debts quickly. As long as a college education remains such an expensive and risky endeavor, it will always favor wealthier individuals or those with more resources who can afford the risk. College education shouldn’t be about perpetuating a class of people who don’t even need their degree in the first place. It should be about providing opportunity to those who need and yearn for it the most.

What’s your take on the story?


This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses.  She welcomes your comments at her email ID: angelita.williams7



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