Monday, May 1, 2017

Blog Post #10


Should higher education in the United States be considered a public or private good? The answer to this question has been a hot-button topic of discussion among educators, politicians, and policy-makers for decades. For low-income students in particular, the answer to this question essentially dictates their success in life, if success is defined as achieving financial stability and upward social mobility. Students from lower-income backgrounds have less of a chance at successful, lucrative careers and, in turn, at upward social mobility or class reproduction than their middle-to-upper class counterparts. However, this issue is not solely a lower-income or working-class problem—higher education institutions in the United States, particularly large, state schools, are set up to best serve its most affluent students. There are many reasons for this. One is that the negative effects of the prejudice education policies of decade’s past continue to reverberate within our nation’s institutions of higher education. Another is the shift in funding for higher education. Due to cuts in public state funding, universities must now look to its students to compensate by raising the cost of tuition. This also means cuts to college programs and services provided for students. For this reason, the socioeconomic status and education level of a student’s parent(s) has never played a larger role in determining future success than it does today. This paper aims to explore how students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are at a great disadvantage at the onset of college relative to their higher-SES counterparts. It also aims to discuss how the continuing privatization of higher education institutions further limits or obstructs the low-socioeconomic student pathway to success.

Works Cited
Armstrong, Elizabeth and Laura Hamilton.  Paying for the Party: How College Maintains
            Inequality.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2013. Print.
Carlson, Scott. When College was a Public Good. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2016.
            Higher Education and Privatization. NEA Higher Education Research Center, 2004.

Cox, R.D. "Complicating Conditions: Obstacles and Interruptions to Low-Income Students’
            College “Choices”." Journal of Higher Education, vol. 87, no. 1, 01 Jan. 2016, p. 1-26.
Croitzet, J. C. and T. Claire. “Extending the Concept of Stereotype Threat to Social Class: The
            Intellectual Underperformance of Students from Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds.”
            Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 24, no. 6, 01 June 1998, p. 588-594.
Huang, H. (2015). Can students themselves narrow the socioeconomic-status-based achievement
gap through their own persistence and learning time? Education Policy Analysis
Leonhardt, David. “America’s Great Working-Class College.” The New York Times, 18 January
Newfield, Christopher. The Great Mistake: How we wrecked public universities and how we can
            fix them. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2016. Print.
Reardon, S.F. (2011). The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor:
            New evidence and possible explanations. In R. Murnane & G. Duncan (Eds.), Whither
            Opportunity? Rising Inequality and the Uncertain Life Chances of Low-Income Children.
New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press. Retrieved from
Selingo, Jeffrey J. “Who Will Be Able to Afford College In A Decade?” Washington Post, 10
            December 2015.
“Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.”
Vannozzi, Briana. “Rutgers Future Scholars Program Helps Low-Income Students Attend
            College.” NJ TV News-Online, 27 June 2016.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Research Blog #9

Argument and Counter-Argument 
My paper aims to explore how students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are at a great disadvantage at the onset of college relative to their higher-SES counterparts. It also aims to discuss how the continuing privatization of higher education institutions further limits or obstructs the low-socioeconomic student pathway to success. Low-SES students are limited in the choices they can make as a student-- whether it be what majors they can take, what type of social life they can have, or what they can physically afford to do or buy. To explore how low-SES students are limited in their choices and, therefore, at a disadvantage my paper will first look at  how the privatization of higher education magnifies the strain on those students. I will look at the disadvantages in resources that low-SES students have in regards to finance, parental guidance, and educational resources. I will also discuss how these disadvantages create a ripple affect that spills over to create more disadvantages like the lack of a social life, or time to study because of work, or the inability to join a sorority, which in turn leads to limited networking opportunities. 

I had a lot of trouble finding an actual source containing a counter-argument, but I can give a counter-argument that university leaders and politicians give when pressed about the issue of privatization and how it negatively affects so many students. Politicians say that although federal funding is cut, states will still spend a huge amount of public money on higher education. University leaders say that they had tied high tuition to federal aid. Both parties also say that poor students are not actually hurt by privatization because college is the best investment for them to make. These statements are not entirely true. While the amount of federal aid that the government and colleges give out has increased, tuition has grown at a much larger rate, thus the financial aid increase is not proportional. Relying on states to food the bill for higher education is not only irresponsible, but untrue because so much of the cost of schooling is still absorbed by students through tuition. Students from low-SES backgrounds do have a shot at a better job post-grad than they would if they had not attended college, however, many low-SES students find that their loans and the interest accumulated by them are too much to pay off. 
In a New York Times article titled “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours”, the author discusses how the Obama administration and Congress expanded Pell eligibility, causing the number of Pell recipients to rise. Some university leaders pointed to this increase as a sign that they took economic diversity much more seriously than in the past, however, research shows that this increase stems from expansion of the program. It seems as though university leaders and politicians will point to any small glimmer that this method is working while ignoring the large quantity of facts in front of them. 

Research Blog #8

The main case that I am focusing on for my paper is one that we have discussed in class, Paying for the Party by Armstrong and Hamilton. Armstrong and Hamilton offer extensive and rich research not only on a state University and its failing college model, but on individual students themselves. There are a number of cases within Armstrong and Hamilton's "Paying for the Party", but there are a couple that are the most useful for my topic. One is the case of Emma and Taylor, two students from very similar backgrounds. Both excelled in high school, both were roughly 18 years old, American born, heterosexual, unmarried women with no children who wanted to pursue careers in dentistry. The only slight difference was that Emma came from a middle class family, while Taylor came from an upper-middle class family. This minor difference proved to be a significant one that played a drastic role in Taylor's success and Emma's failure. Another case example from "paying for the Party" is the case of Megan, who is unable to maintain any type of social life because she must pay to go to school. Her long weekend work hours prevent her from going out and making friends or joining a sorority (although she would not be able to afford it anyway). Not being able to make connections further limit Megan in career opportunities because today,  networking is a vital aspect of  securing a successful position post-grad.

Research Blog #7

For my research paper, which focuses on the struggles that students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds face, there are a number of terms and academic concepts that help me to make sense of the research. SES is the socioeconomic status of a student, meritocracy is the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability. These are terms I came across frequently in my research. The theory that quality public education contributes to the greater good and overall well-being of this nation frames all of the work that I have done. In my opinion, it is important for students from all different backgrounds to have a fair chance at a successful college career. Another framework for my research paper is that the current college model in place for schools, state schools in particular, are set up in ways that systematically oppress students from lower income backgrounds and maintain the hierarchy in class levels that students are in at the onset of college. Because I reject the current notions and systems in place, i.e. that not at all Americans believe public education serves the greater good of this country or that anyone can achieve upward class mobility if he or she works hard enough, allows me to dive into my topic in a more rich way.