The Rich and the Poor: Impact Upon Higher Education Opportunity

By Victoria Klochkova

The question of how the level of a family’s income affects children’s performance at school has been researched most thoroughly. However, even numerous studies from different countries cannot answer this question with 100% accuracy. The majority of data clearly states that lower income equals lower test scores. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, and it’s their unpredictable nature that baffles most researchers. Luckily, today this difference matters little as higher education has become available to everyone.

Who Gets Better Education Today: Rich Vs. Poor

In the US, about 79% of students born to high-income families get their degrees, and only 11% of those who come from the low-income part of the society. In the year 2010, 55% of the bachelor’s degrees were awarded to those whose family income was above $98,875, and only 9.4% of the bachelor graduates had the family income lower than $33,000.

This data indicates that it’s not race, religion, or gender that have the biggest impact on a person’s ability to receive higher education. In the end, it all boils down to money, so thousands of talented individuals miss out on their chance to progress academically.

Just how many of potentially successful scholars are lost to our world due to the harsh financial imbalance?

A recent survey on the impact of income on test scores indicates that students who come from families with the income per capita lower than $19,999 show better results on test scores when compared to those with income per capita over $30,000 by 2%.

It’s these children who get a chance at the better future due to the inception of numerous scholarship programs as well as more affordable student loans.

Is It All About the Money?

Detailed studies show that test scores are definitely influenced by a variety of factors, and the level of income is only one of them. Some of the factors you also need to consider are:

  • Percentage of rentals as opposed to owner-occupied dwellings
  • Percent of college-educated adults in the community

Surprisingly, it’s the rentals vs. owner-occupied homes that have the highest impact on school test scores, according to the same survey that shows children from low-income families do better on tests. This study shows that the peak of academic achievement comes from communities with the level of owner-occupied housing ranging between 70% and 79%. This might indicate that a sense of stability associated with home is one of the factors that affect a student’s performance deeply.

How Do Scholarships Help?

Nowadays, schools realized the loss of potential caused by financial obstacles. This prompted the creation of numerous scholarship programs. They extend even to the Ivy League, which was the home of the elite for generations.

The opportunities offered by scholarships are truly impressive and hundreds of students seize them to the best of their ability. However, once they do get to the elite schools, they face another kind of problem, namely discrimination.

It appears that colleges, especially those of the highest level, like Harvard and Yale, don’t pay enough attention to the socioeconomic discrepancy of the student body. Therefore, they don’t have effective programs for integrating poor students into their academic community.

While discrimination on the faculty level is not an issue, as students are evaluated based on their academic performance, it’s a different case with the peers. Many of the so-called ‘first generation’ Ivy League students claim feeling inadequate, underprepared, or outright discriminated by their dormmates and classmates.

The good news is that steps are taken to improve the situation, such as the establishment of the Inter-Ivy First Generation College Student Network. Similar organizations pop up in other universities as well. They make the journey to better education for students coming from low-income families much smoother. Most importantly, they help fight the injustice that has prevailed in the education system for so long, turning campuses into hospitable places for every individual, regardless of their bank account.

Victoria is a passionate entrepreneur and marketer. She runs a digital agency and writes for several blogs on the web. She loves sharing knowledge about innovation and technology!


3 comments on “The Rich and the Poor: Impact Upon Higher Education Opportunity”

  1. Hey,

    thank you for this great post. Do not you think that sometimes the poor people are more motivated to get education than the rich ones? on the other hand you cannot deny that there is absolutely no question about how far mire sifisticated education oa rich guy may be.

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