university educations and those who can afford them

I think most of us have the sense that the gap between rich and poor is growing wider by the day in the United States. Some of us might think, however, that universities at least are doing their part to keep the playing field level. Sadly though that’s not the case. More and more college educations in this country are for the privileged. Here’s a clip from “The Chronicle of Higher Education” (subscription required):

Today’s college freshmen have more financial advantages than their predecessors over the last 35 years, and come from families with median incomes 60 percent higher than the national average, according to a report that examined 40 years’ worth of data from the University of California at Los Angeles’s national surveys of freshmen at four-year colleges.

The report, “American Freshman: Forty-Year Trends, 1966-2006,” is scheduled to be released today. It documents the changing nature of college freshmen in terms of their characteristics, values, attitudes, and behaviors using data collected from 8.3 million students at 1,201 colleges over the 40-year period. The report was produced by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program administered by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, which releases an annual survey of college freshmen.

According to the report, in 1971 freshmen’s median parental income was $13,200, which was 46 percent higher than the national average. Today that median income is $74,000, 60 percent higher than the average. The increase in income outpaced the national average by a two-to-one ratio, the report says, and accelerated during the mid-1980s.

“As colleges and universities continue their financial policies of increasing tuition and fees, we are seeing direct effects on students that come from poorer families,” said Jose Luis Santos, an assistant professor of education at UCLA and an author of the report. “Students from wealthier families can endure greater fluctuations in ‘sticker price’ than poorer students, and as a result, more students entering college come from homes that are increasingly wealthier than the national median income”…

On a regular night, I could probably weave in another link and make a mildly interesting observation or two about what all this means, but my mind has just been seriously crippled by an absolutely fantastic PBS documentary on Jonestown. So, you’ll have to excuse me.

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7 Comments

  1. dr. teddy glass
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Audio from November 18, 1978 in Jonestown-

    http://www.archive.org/details/ptc1978-11-18.flac16

  2. ol' e cross
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    The report:

    “examined 40 years of data from UCLA’s national survey of entering undergraduates at four-year colleges and universities.

    Moderate and low income students are just doing what I did … starting at the community college and transferring to four year schools. The study ignores CC freshman.

  3. DM
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I watched the Jonestown documentary as well.

    Did you see the sign behind the senator as he was speaking? It read “Those who do not remember the past are condemed to repeat it.” Strange. The statement about “congressional shield” spooked me too.

  4. egpenet
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Kids that go to college (many, if not most, starting at a Community College) … are hoping for a good job. They doNOT go to school to learn or to get an education … they go to pass the tests and get the diploma, or the certificate.

    Whether it’s in the arts or the sciences, colleges have followed the pattern set by industry (from manufacturing to farming), which is to break down job tasks into simple steps that anyone can master. That includes immigrants. No thinking, language or math skills required.

    If we think all of this is a great idea … why are we so concerned with “No Child, etc.”? It’s irrelevant. Kids don’t need to know that stuff. UNLESS … they want a GREAT job that pays over 100K a year … say, at Pfizer. But if you want to work in media, in business, be a lawyer, even an accountant, or a stock broker … pass the test, get the piece of paper that says you ARE ONE … and bingo!

    I was listening to Rev. Al yesterday on the Detroit station … and the announcer had such bad grammar, the news was written so poorly, and the garbled lingo was so BAD … that … well, I didn’t DO IT, but I might very easily have ben suspended by MSNBC myself!

    For what I call, the “low level of mastery society” we have today, our schools are doing just fine. If you want a better society for ALL … then, family, schools and school boards have a LOT OF WORK TO DO! Maybe I’ll try and get on the Board … but only if Ypsi parents want to make significant changes at home, on the streets and in the classroom.

  5. j7uy5
    Posted April 11, 2007 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    We keep hearing that the economy is getting better. What the college study shows is that it is getting better for some: the rich are getting richer, and it is getting harder for poor people to climb out of poverty.Whether this is deliberate or the unanticipated effect of misguided policy, it is a trend that is not sustainable.

  6. dr. teddy glass
    Posted April 11, 2007 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I liked how Jim Jones would come up behind a guy and say “If you want, I’ll fuck you in the ass.”

  7. oliva
    Posted April 11, 2007 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    “We keep hearing that the economy is getting better.”
    But who is saying this, and why, despite so much evidence to the contrary, would we believe it?
    Not that I’m a pessimist–I’m not. But a mightily troubled economy plus great wealth disparity, plus remarkably stubborn cultural arrogance and shortsightedness and an unseemly lust for things . . . Where is the heft, the actual value, in a consumer-based economy that stays afloat by stoking the wish to buy and have?

    Seeds of change are being planted, though cultivation will take a lot of work (of the “personal is political” variety). Hope springs eternal . . .

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