Colleges Are Engines of Upward Mobility

Higher Education's Questionable Equality-of-Opportunity Promise
 by Preston Cooper

"Flatter lines mean that students who attend the same type of college can expect similar incomes in adulthood regardless of their background as a child; steeper lines mean that a parent’s income has influence over his child’s fortunes in adulthood even though the child has received a college education."

... For the most part, the lines are relatively flat #1 A child born into the bottom income quintile who attends an Ivy League or similarly elite college can expect to be in, on average, the seventy-second income percentile as an adult. In other words, a child whose parents were poorer than four-fifths of their fellow Americans can expect to be richer than nearly three-quarters of the population in adulthood—quite the turnaround. What’s even more striking is that #2 a child born into the top quintile who attends the same college only fares slightly better than his low-income peer."

The Good News is Education Works for talented ambitious students from poor families who graduate. They make substantial income gains and the better the college, the more the gains. The Bad News is that both talent and ambition are a function of nature and nurture. Efforts to increase nature, and nurture for students raised in difficult environments have not been successful. Very few quintile one students attend the better schools. From my very limited personal experience, teachers find these worthy kids and treat them like All-Stars. Providing the funds to help these teachers and their merited students should be a priority.

See College Isn't A Guarantee To The Middle Class