Income and College Success
Tom Mortenson, a higher ed policy analyst, offers these sobering statistics on his Postsecondary Education Opportunity blog:
By any conceivable measure students from families with incomes of more than $100,000 are doing extraordinarily well in the education pipeline. They have the highest high school graduation rates (92.5%), college continuation rates for those that graduate from high school (87.0%), and bachelor's degree completion rate by age 24 for those who start college (90.1%). As a result they earn bachelor's degrees by age 24 at far higher rates (72.6%) than do students born into lower income families (27.9% in the third quartile, 16.6% in the second quartile, 12.3% in the bottom quartile).
The common statistic that 50% of those who enter college don't graduate is misleading. Actually, 90% of wealthy kids who enter college graduate. Meanwhile, only 12% of the poorest kids earn bachelor's degrees. That means--yep--the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, given what we know about how a college education improves one's chances of earning a high income over a lifetime.
A key reason poorer kids don't graduate from college--indeed, a reason some don't enter college--is that they're weak readers. Through no fault of their own, most heard a smaller spoken vocabulary as preschoolers, had fewer books in their homes, and attended weaker public schools. When they arrive at college, they're overwhelmed by the requirements of background knowledge, comprehension of difficult texts, and the sheer volume of reading required. It's been said that 80% of college learning comes through reading. If you're a weak reader, you're not passing the tests, earning the degree, nor achieving the professional and income advantages of your wealthier peers.
Lots of work is being done on this situation at the Pre-K - 12 levels, but that doesn't help our current students who are dropping out of college at alarming rates. Can we make up for reading weakesses in college reading classes or through some other type of intervention? What do you think?