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Data released from the statistics division of the U.S. Department of Education earlier this month points out that a college education can still be a lever of social mobility.
Consider students who graduated from college with a four-year bachelor’s degree during the 2007-08 academic year. Five years later, in 2012, the majority of these young college graduates had full-time jobs. For those whose parents had never attended any college, often referred to as “first-generation” students, 57 percent were working full time and earning $45,000 a year, on average. For those who had at least one parent who had attended some college, 58 percent were working full time and earning $43,000. And for those who had at least one parent with a college degree, 59 percent were working full time and making $45,500. From a statistical perspective, these rates and salaries are identical, according to the February 2018 report produced by RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
“It’s partially good news. It doesn’t matter who you are as long as you hold a diploma in your hands,” said Ray Franke, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “For the few [first-generation students] who make it through the pipeline, chances are they can progress just like their peers and lead a successful middle-income life.”
But the report wasn’t all good news; it also highlighted how first-generation students are less likely to take challenging, college-preparatory classes in high school. Afterward, first-generation students enroll in college in smaller numbers.
Read the full article about first-generation college grads by Jill Barshay at The Hechinger Report.