Class Differences and Impact on Student Access and Outcomes

The study of class differences and social mobility remain areas of fascination for sociologists. Debates concerning how class plays out in education, specifically higher education, have focused on many different areas from the effects of poverty, first-in-family (first generation) status, government efforts to widen participation, as well as entitlement, resilience, competition, and intergenerational histories. Regardless of the focus, there exist great disparities for those entering higher education, which both highlight pervasive inequality and show the power of class to influence opportunity and life chances. As Muriel Egerton and A. H. Halsey have written, three significant aspects shaped conversations regarding access to higher education over the 20th century. These include, first, a period of significant expansion; second, a reduction in gender inequality; and, third, little to ...

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