ERIC Number: ED415276
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Oct
Toward Inequality: Disturbing Trends in Higher Education.
Barton, Paul E.
This brief report addresses two issues. One is the stagnation in the rate at which young people are receiving 4-year college degrees, and the increasingly high financial barriers to attending college. The other is the large, and increasing, inequality in opportunity to achieve a college education. At the same time, economists have warned that our economy increasingly needs the skills obtained in college, and that income for people with less than a 4-year degree is declining. Educational attainment among young adults has been flat for two decades, with the percentage of young adults who have completed high school holding steady at about 86 to 87% and the number of students completing 4 years of college holding at around 23-25%. The staircase to higher education is getting harder to climb as costs advance sharply. In addition, most students who start higher education do not get a degree. Of those who entered college in 1989, seeking a bachelor's degree, 46% had a 4-year degree 5 years later and about 18% were still enrolled. Exodus from college begins early and is high between the freshman and sophomore years. When all negative factors are factored in, higher cost, stagnating income, declining aid, and high dropout rates, the result is a growing disparity in students' ability to earn a postsecondary degree. Efforts to improve this situation must start early, assuring high school graduation and removing in equalities in education at elementary levels as well. Disparities in educational achievement at elementary and secondary levels must be addressed through setting standards, allocating resources, and addressing socioeconomic and family-level causes. For national as well as individual well being, there is a strong case to be made for greater participation in higher education. (SLD)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Access to Education, College Graduates, Dropouts, Economic Factors, Educational Attainment, Equal Education, High School Graduates, Higher Education, Labor Market, Low Income Groups, Resource Allocation, Standards, Student Costs, Urban Youth
Policy Information Center, Mail Stop 04-R, Educational Testing Service, Rosedale Road, Princeton, NJ 08541-0001; Internet: email@example.com; World Wide Web: http://www.ets.org ($9.50).
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ. Policy Information Center.