Why do parents seek the best schools for their students? Why do parents pour weekends, countless miles, and thousands of dollars into sports for their athletes? Why have parents been ringing my Distraught Parents’ Hotline (713.553.6557) since 2004? Class anxiety.
While America lacks Britain’s formal aristocracy of dukes, earls, and barons, our nation’s colonial forebears planted class in the soil along with English common law. Graduating college means attaining -– or, depending on a student’s current status, retaining -– a higher class. In the paper “Income Segregation and Intergenerational Mobility Across Colleges in the United States,” Harvard Economist Raj Chetty and a team of researchers studied the beginnings (parental income) and outcomes (students’ income after college) of college students in the U.S. from 1999 to 2013.
The researchers concluded that students who attend the same college, whether they hail from a poor or rich family, have similar earnings outcomes. Nevertheless, students with high-earning parents are more likely than other students to attend the colleges that produce high earners. In the U.S., income is a determinant of socioeconomic status.
Which colleges boost their graduates’ status?
Visit https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/ to learn how your prospective university, current university, or alma mater contributes to social mobility.
3 Action Items to Realize These Socioeconomic Gains
1. Learn about more highly selective colleges and universities. Attend college fairs at top high schools like Houston ISD’s Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions and Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Meet the college representatives and learn about their requirements for admissions and scholarships.
2. Get real about your college readiness. Find your SAT and PSAT scores. Then, use these benchmarks from the College Board to determine if you are on track for college readiness.
- (Students who take the SAT) SAT: Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing Benchmark: 480; Math Benchmark: 530
- (11th graders) PSAT/NMSQT: Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing Benchmark: 460; Math Benchmark: 510
- (10th graders) PSAT 10: Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing Benchmark: 430; Math Benchmark: 480
- (9th graders) PSAT 8/9: Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing Benchmark: 410; Math Benchmark: 450
- (8th graders) PSAT 8/9: Evidenced-Based Reading & Writing Benchmark: 390; Math Benchmark: 430
3. Act like you want to go to college and set high expectations. As a third generation college graduate, I’ve witnessed higher education enable my family to transcend rural poverty to realize economic stability. However, it has not been easy. Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”
Unless you attend a highly selective magnet or private high school, regular classes are not going to prepare you for college. Some of you are taking daycare math and history because you are too afraid to challenge yourselves in Dual Credit and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. On the other hand, some of you know that as long as you are well-behaved and breathing, you can pass your AP classes. What if you shifted your goal to earning a 3 or better on that course’s AP exam? How would that new perspective shape your studying, reading, writing, and testing?