It seems to be a given that a college education is the way out of poverty. However, recent findings published on PBS Newshour show that this is not the case.
According to data from University of Michigan's Panel Study of Income Dynamics, college students from poor families earned 91 percent more than high school graduates from poor families. However, college graduates from upper middle class families earned 162 percent more.
The study attributes this finding to two things: disparities in family resources during childhood and the colleges low-income students attend. While some students from poorer families are taught that they will achieve success by working hard, more privileged students know that just hard work is not enough. Employers often look for employees that "fit" their company and there's sometimes truth in the phrase, "It's not what you know, but who you know."
The college selection process draws comparison to picking teams on the playground. Colleges and employers look for well-rounded individuals that not only excel in school, but also participate in extracurricular activities. While a student from a middle class family may only have to deal with schoolwork, often students from poorer backgrounds may have to work during college, so they don't have a chance to participate in extracurricular activities.
Another factor in this equation is the colleges poorer students attend. As a student from a working class background, I was slated to attend whichever college gave me the most money. Since poorer students can't pay for college, they often end up going wherever they can.
These sobering facts call America's school systems into question. How are students supposed to break the cycles of poverty when they lack fundamental resources?
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