College and the Working Class: What it Takes to make it by Allison L. Hurst (auth.), Allison L. Hurst (eds.)

By Allison L. Hurst (auth.), Allison L. Hurst (eds.)

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Extra resources for College and the Working Class: What it Takes to make it

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Even in 23 CHAPTER 2 two-year colleges, working-class students were in the minority. In the postwar period, two-year colleges primarily served middle-class students with relatively poor academic records (Jencks & Riesman 1968:146). The rise of the junior (or community) college is an interesting history in itself. As more people attended college, social expectations were raised. By creating stratification within higher education, some of these social expectations could be deflected, thus preventing social unrest.

For the upper-middle class student, college is desirable, expected, and probable. For the working-class student, college may be desirable (and may be not), but it is often beyond one’s expectations and highly improbable. The next section will take a closer look at the figures today for working-class college students. Three Percent: Working-Class College Students by the Numbers Ideally, I would be able to tell you exactly how many working-class students earn college degrees today, from what types of institutions, and how their participation rates compare to participation rates of middle-class and upper-class students.

The recent massive study by Bowen and colleagues (2009) found that nine percent of low-income first-generation college students had earned a degree by the age of 26 compared to sixty-eight percent of students whose parents graduated from college (pg. 8). PROGRAMS TO EXPAND ACCESS AND ATTAINMENT Interestingly, studies have shown that low-income students in selective four year colleges and universities do just as well as their colleagues (Bowen et al. 2005). There are no major differences between these students in terms of major, grades, plans for further education, career plans, and anticipated satisfaction with careers (Goldstein 1974).

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