Socioeconomic Status and Access to Postsecondary Education
Joshua J. Trader
A person’s education is closely linked to their life chances, income and wellbeing (Battle and Lewis 2002). In a world that is continuously changing, access to postsecondary education plays an important role into where and how we find a career and where we want to end up. I know that higher education has put me in a position to do things that I never would have thought I could or would ever do. The United States has millions of people enrolled in colleges and universities and is the world leader in providing a college education to its people. The United States also enrolls more students from abroad than any other. This is a very large number and we really want as a nation to be a leader in education. When we lead the world with the highest proportion of college graduates, the United States finds itself thriving with an abundance of growth in all areas. Community colleges offer a number of specific benefits. Affordability and location are very large reasons as to why community colleges like Delta College are playing a very significant role in the lives of thousands of people. Socioeconomic status (SES), family size, and parental involvement will all influence the amount of resources available to an individual. As SES increases access to higher education will also increase. Higher education in America can put you a step ahead of others as Walters notes. “Higher Education in America has become increasingly stratified, with some institutions enrolling large numbers of students from low-income families. Because education is so central to upward mobility, it is important for researchers, policy makers, and the public to keep a close eye on this trend” (Walters, 2006). I think we need to really need to concentrate on this, even as students, we can do this and make other students more aware of the importance of education no matter what the student’s background or socioeconomic status. According to Education Department data, students with parents without any education beyond high school account for about 36 percent of all enrollment at postsecondary institutions, with most being concentrated at less competitive four year colleges, two year colleges, and proprietary institutions (Schmidt, 2010). This is specifically important because I feel there needs to be a shift in the students and staff thinking at all postsecondary educational institutions. Too many students believe that education means nothing and they just go through the motions, this is a problem because these students find themselves not completing classes, dropping out and ultimately never finishing college and earning a credential. They do not realize the importance of education. By 2020, President Obama has said he wants the United States to have a higher proportion of students with college credentials than any other nation. But the nation cannot get to that point unless many more people from modest means enter and complete college (Schmidt, 2010). This is an initiative that Phi Theta Kappa, a two year international honors society for two year colleges, is a part of and it is called the Community College Completion Corps. I believe firmly that if the United States wants to be the leading nation in the world with prepared college graduates we need to enable and empower more students with lower socioeconomic backgrounds to be able to attend a postsecondary school. There are many areas that can be linked to academic performance including; student role performance (SRP) factors, school factors, family factors and peer factors. Student role performance is how well an individual fulfills the role of a student in an educational setting. Sex, race, school effort, extra-curricular activities, deviance and disabilities are all-important sociological influences on SRP and have been shown to affect access to education (Crosnoe, Johnson & Elder 2004). The affect that sex has on a...
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