I'm sure some of you have seen this NYT article from 22 Dec. It deals with the difficulty associated with transitioning to college for low-income students, the widening education gap with respect to socioeconomic status, and tells the story of three low-income women who struggled significantly through the many nuances of what has become ubiquitous in our society today: a college education.
I imagine the WSO readership has a lot of different views on this topic and many responses to this article. Play nice, kids.
Full disclosure: I come from a similar background to the people described in the NYT article.
While reading this article, I have to say that I could fairly easily empathize with these young women. Everything relating to college is made infinitely easier if you had parents who went through the process in the US -- navigating through the application process, the transition, and the process of picking classes, getting the grades, and obtaining a diploma is really mentally and physically challenging if it's unfamiliar territory.
But that can be said for anything, right? It will always be easier if you have people around you to guide you, no matter what "it" is. Some people are born into families that can't offer such guidance -- or a network when looking for a job, for example -- tough luck...life is hard.
But when the "life is hard" mantra (a popular one on WSO) becomes so applicable to something that is now virtually required by society -- a college degree -- we might have a problem. It's tough to deny the fact that college is more likely to be roses and pink fuzzy bunnies if you're bankrolled by your parents than if you're trying to hold it together through loans, financial aid, the federal work-study program, and whatever other means possible. The added anxiety, uncertainty, and concern over what's happening at home can often be a very heavy burden for students to-- I know from personal experience that it wasn't easy to make the adjustment.
And while I know a lot of low-income kids who "made it", I also know an awful lot who went to college -- thinking they had just bitten into a fat slice of the American Dream -- only to have to drop out or struggle significantly due to family situations or finances. Some of us were lucky enough to have strong guidance counselors and mentors to help with the overly-complicated financial aid forms, and others -- like one of the girls described in the article -- weren't so lucky.
In any case, do you all think socioeconomic mobility is dying in the US? Supposedly, it is harder to move here than in Canada and most of Western Europe. Is college becoming a playground for America's wealthy, or is education still the great equalizer that everyone so righteously claims it is? What should universities do to help low-income students succeed -- the article makes it clear as day that often-times they don't?
Thanks for reading, and again, play nice, and happy holidays!