The college admissions process can seem confusing, but many of the hoops to jump through are there to make sure candidates meet the standards set at a (usually) high bar. A certain SAT grade, along with a particular GPA correlated with it, are often the only two things keeping students out of college.
Most less-selective colleges have hard admission cutoffs for prospective. For example, the minimum combined reading and math SAT score could be an 830, as long as the student maintained at least a C average GPA. Students can fall to either side of this line, according to the New York Times, and students who did not pass that set bar were rejected from college a majority of the time. To be exact, roughly half of the students who cleared this standard graduated with a bachelor’s degree, as compared to only 17 percent of those who did not meet this standard–regardless of how marginal the difference was.
There have been a few studies of the students that fall to either side of this line over the years. One such study found that young adults who fell above the line and went to college made an average of 22 percent more in their late 20s than those who fell just below the cutoff. This is a statistic that contests ardently to the notion of “go to college to live a successful life.” However, there seems to be an unexplored caveat of this dictum. How many of those students making 22 percent more than those who did not go to college were already wealthy?
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Students from the wealthiest families outscored those from the poorest by just shy of 400 points,” which is just another example of “economic inequality result[ing] in much more than just disparate incomes”
In my book Wealth vs. Work, I discuss both equality and inequality financially. There are many wealthy students who are given the opportunity to go to college, but either wish to pursue a different career path or are otherwise disinclined towards college.
“When we talk about equal opportunity, eventually the question arises as to whether everyone should have the right to go to college. If everyone has the right to go to a high school education, why not college? …[T]here are many children whose academic limitations cannot be traced to poverty or deprivation. Children who come from upper-class homes have the advantage of social capital, and have parents who can hire private tutors, if necessary. They also have the ability to move to a successful school district- where… the school climate is more conducive to learning.
Others who are less fortunate start out on a less than equal footing and continue to experience family, school, peer group, and community handicaps that only increase their disadvantages- and thus are often doomed to disappointment.”
-Allan Ornstein, Wealth vs. Work: How 1% Victimizes 99%. p. 214
Some say that college dictates success–that social mobility relies on education. Why, then, do those those at the bottom of the totem pole have a society set against them getting a college education? Does excellence matter anymore, or has higher education become a result of money and circumstance, instead?