Americans' views of college access varied, often inflated

Apr 08, 2011

A study by Indiana University sociologists found that many Americans had inflated views of minority students' opportunities to attend college, yet a large contingent - around 43 percent of people surveyed - believed that low income students had fewer opportunities for college access.

The study, which will be discussed on Monday at the American Educational Research Association's meeting in New Orleans, found that Americans have varying beliefs when it comes to college access. A quarter of the people interviewed thought minority and low-income students held a better position than middle-class students when it came to college access. , particularly African Americans, were more attuned to barriers in college access faced by disadvantaged groups.

"Understanding these perceptions is important because they have the potential to influence not only preferences, but also an individual's actions," said Kristin Jordan, co-author of the study "The Blind Side: Americans' Perceptions of Inequalities in College Access." "If you do not think you have the opportunity for a college education, you may not even apply."

Qualified students from low-income families were perceived as having less opportunity than other groups, according to the study, while qualified students who were racial or ethnic minorities were perceived as having more opportunities for a than other groups.

The study was based on an analysis of data from a national survey of around 1,000 adults conducted in 2007 by Public Agenda and by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which are independent nonprofit research groups. Here are some key findings

  • 43.4 percent said qualified students from low-income families have less opportunity than others to attend college.
  • 26.9 percent responded that qualified have less opportunity than others to attend college.
  • 26.8 percent responded that qualified middle-class students have less opportunity than others to attend college.
  • 24.4 percent reported that qualified students who are racial and ethnic minorities have more opportunity to attend college than others.
  • 19.7 percent responded that students from low-income families have an advantage over others
  • 10.2 percent said qualified students from middle-class families are better off than others when it comes to college access.
Jordan was intrigued by the finding that education levels, particularly whether someone earned a college degree, played little role in perceptions of college access across different social groups. Oren Pizmony Levy, another author of the study, said Americans see education as the 'great equalizer' or the best way to reduce inequality and help all people to become successful.

"Therefore, investigating how people think about opportunity to get higher education is important," he said.

Explore further: No silver bullet: Study identifies risk factors of youth charged with murder

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

SAT prep tools offer great advantages

Aug 14, 2006

U.S. students from higher-income families are most likely to use SAT preparation tools, thereby giving them an advantage in getting into college.

Recommended for you

World population likely to peak by 2070

1 hour ago

World population will likely peak at around 9.4 billion around 2070 and then decline to around 9 billion by 2100, according to new population projections from IIASA researchers, published in a new book, World Population and ...

Bullying in schools is still prevalent, national report says

2 hours ago

Despite a dramatic increase in public awareness and anti-bullying legislation nationwide, the prevalence of bullying is still one of the most pressing issues facing our nation's youth, according to a report by researchers ...

Study examines effects of credentialing, personalization

5 hours ago

Chris Gamrat, a doctoral student in learning, design and technology, recently had his study—completed alongside Heather Zimmerman, associate professor of education; Jaclyn Dudek, a doctoral student studying learning, design ...

Data indicate there is no immigration crisis

23 hours ago

Is there an "immigration crisis" on the U.S.-Mexico border? Not according to an examination of historical immigration data, according to a new paper from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

User comments : 0