For Higher Income Students, Money Can’t Buy College Readiness

Apr 18, 2016 by

Nearly one-third of first-year developmental students who enrolled in college the fall after high school graduation came from wealthy families.

By Anthony Howell 

Plenty has been said about college-bound students leaving high school woefully underprepared for the content and rigor in college-level classes. Typically, these reports (e.g., see here and here) focus on low-income students’ experiences in remedial or developmental coursework – mandatory pre-college level courses that carry zero credit toward a college degree – in community college.

For the majority of remedial students, that’s true. We know that our K-12 educational system disproportionately underserves low-income students, many of whom are students of color. But what is surprising is that developmental education – or inadequate college preparation more broadly – is not solely a ‘lower-class’ issue. In fact, it appears across all financial demographics – among lower-, middle-, and upper-income families. The impact is particularly notable in both high-income ($113,441+) and upper-middle class families ($74,001 – $113,440): nearly one-third – 28 percent – of first-year developmental students who enrolled in college the fall after high school graduation came from wealthy families.

 

Chart 1 - ERN Blog copy

That was one of the biggest surprise findings in our latest report, Out of Pocket: The High Cost of Inadequate High Schools and High School Student Achievement on College Affordability. Because students have to pay money for extra classes that don’t count towards their college degree, they end up spending money to rehash material that should have been adequately covered in their high school classes. Yes, it is possible to make college even more expensive.

Source: For Higher Income Students, Money Can’t Buy College Readiness – Education Reform Now

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