Why isn’t higher education meritocratic?

Sadly higher education is not meritocratic because the resources surrounding it all relate to how much money one has. In our capitalist society everything comes down to money. It is depressing to look at the populations of colleges and where the students come from economically. In the first chapter of her book Suzzane Metler makes a very clear case about the structure of our higher education system right now and the average background income of the student population. A large majority of the population in higher education comes from wealthy families. Metler illustrates that “for those who grow up in high income families today, going to college is a routine part of life– like getting immunizations in childhood– and the majority of such individuals, 71 percent, complete their bachelor’s degrees in early adulthood” (23). This fact in itself shows how much the system perpetuates wealth disparity in our country. Less wealthy kids cannot afford to go to college or may not have the same incentive so they never end up receiving the perks of having a college degree which statistically greatly increases your annual income over life. While the less wealthy kids never get any real opportunity to receive a higher education, the wealthier ones pass through college with ease and go on to have high steady paying jobs which allow them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.
The fact that tuitions for schools are increasing does not help either. Less wealthy people were already finding it difficult to pay for college and now with the increase it makes it nearly impossible. With the massive increase in tuitions kids sometimes have to take on multiple jobs to help pay for their tuitions. Metler goes on to explain “that rising costs compel more students to work longer hours to finance their education, which makes it difficult for them to carry enough credits to graduate in a timely manner” (27). The students are working so many jobs to help pay for their tuition that they do not even have time to do their work for schools which just increases the length of time and difficulty of work until they finally graduate. Even after all the hard work to help pay for their college fees, many students often have exuberant amounts of debt when they graduate which seem impossible to pay off. It seems that no matter what these less economically advantaged students do, they can never progress to the wealth of the high income students due to this perpetuation which higher education causes.


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