Reported in the April 12 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Elizabeth Armstrong, Ph.D. (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) and Laura Hamilton, Ph.D. (University of California, Merced) have written a new book, Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. Here is the link to the article: http://chronicle.texterity.com/chronicle/20130412a?sub_id=a41Zh1vHbxkm#pg13.
Based on a study they did at the University of Indiana, they followed 53 first year women living in an on-campus dormitory. They looked at socio-economic backgrounds of the women, the campus environment, and academic and professional outcomes. According to the article, they found success disparities between “working class” students and more affluent students. Generally, the more affluent students were better able to succeed because they could rely not only on financial resources of their families, but social connections that enabled them to find good jobs after they graduated, even if their GPAs were weak. Students who did not have the same resources – who were economically disadvantaged – struggled more after college. Dr. Hamilton says in the article that none of the “working-class” women in their study graduated from the university and left for other institutions.
Not surprisingly, student debt was a factor. After college, students with affluent backgrounds had less debt and more family and social support (parents supplemented cost of living, insurance, etc.). Less affluent students were burdened by more debt and less family and social support.
Interestingly, Drs. Armstrong and Hamilton studied the university environment, particularly the social scene, partying, and heavy drinking. They found that those social scenes were less damaging to more affluent students, especially because they could rely on family and social support to compensate for lower GPAs.