US Education System: Turning rich kids into richer adults

One issue that continues to occur in our society from one generation to the next is social reproduction. While this concept is very broad and is caused by a number of different factors, I believe the main culprit is the flawed education system in America. I know that this issue has been discussed in numerous blog posts this week, however this is an issue I feel quite strongly about and have done a significant amount of research on in previous sociology classes.

I know we weren’t supposed to do any research on this but I actually wrote a paper on this just last week so I have a couple sources fresh in my mind. There was one book about the unfair college system that really stuck out to me because of its thoroughness in addressing the issue as well as its relevance to our lives at Bucknell today. This book is called Paying for the Party by Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton.

For the purpose of avoiding too much outside research and turning this blog post into an essay, I’m not going to delve into details but rather attempt to briefly outline the main problems with the college system. Essentially, Armstrong and Hamilton discuss the fact that because of declining state and federal support and rising tuition, Universities have begun to recruit more students who can pay the tuition in full as well as continue to donate after they leave, leaving out many working-class students who rely on scholarships and financial aid to get them through school. In addition, many of these affluent students can rely on family resources to achieve success in the future, so they tend to look for schools where they can spend as much time, if not more, drinking and socializing. In turn, many universities are set up to serve this group of affluent partiers and end up lacking the necessary resources to support low-income students seeking entry into the middle class. Obviously, these issues are not true for every university in America, however, they are spreading quickly among the top-tier schools in the country.

One way I can see a business contributing to solving this problem is by reaching out to students in low-income communities and providing both information (through advisors or college counselors) and financial support for those who are interested in the college experience. This way, these students will be more informed about the college process and will be able to choose the school that best suits and supports their specific needs as well as obtain the necessary funds to participate in the college experience.

However, as I mentioned earlier, this problem is the consequence of cutting higher education funds. So until states invest more in higher education, universities will likely continue focusing on students (most likely from out of state and abroad) who bring in the most tuition dollars and alumni donations and will force less privileged in-state students who can’t afford it to pursue other, more affordable options, such as online education.


2 thoughts on “US Education System: Turning rich kids into richer adults

  1. Definitely a huge issue that perpetuates class separation in the US and elsewhere. My hometown has some programs for low-income students, but you bring up a great point about changing their mindset towards higher education. If low-income students expect to go to college they are much more likely to overcome their income obstacles. I don’t have data to support this though.


  2. Patxi, I really enjoyed your post. Very true points about the nature of top tier institutions. It is a problem that effects the core of society. Some questions came to mind when reading your blog: what about community colleges? What can businesses do in terms of recruiting efforts that can help address this issue? If Bernie Sanders were elected and he successfully made college tuition free, how do you think this would effect the issue?


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