As higher education researcher Kelly Rosinger writes in this paper, the Equality of Opportunity Project’s Mobility Report Card data “provide the clearest picture we have to date of the role that colleges play in access, success, and upward mobility.”
There’s some very good news in the Mobility Report Cards study. First and foremost, there are four-year colleges that are doing an excellent job of providing social mobility to the low-income students they enroll. Some less prominent public universities are real workhorses, enrolling a substantial number of low-income students and propelling a signi cant share of them into the top 20 percent of the income scale. Ivy League and other extremely selective institutions don’t enroll many low-income students. But they tend to do a tremendous job with those they do enroll, helping hoist them to the top of the ladder.
Meanwhile, the study clearly shows that when low- income students are given the opportunity to attend rigorous colleges, they do at least as well as their more afluent peers. This study should put an end to the dangerous myth that even the most highly qualified, low-income students can’t hack it at top colleges.
And although this paper sounds the alarm about declining access at public universities, our analysis shows that about a quarter of these institutions are becoming more accessible by enrolling more low- income students and fewer high-income ones than they were in the late 1990s.
Still, there is also a lot of bad news in the Mobility Report Card data. Just as in elementary and secondary education, low-income undergraduates are most likely to attend the schools with the least resources and worst outcomes, putting them at a huge disadvantage to their wealthier counterparts. And the news that the overwhelming majority of selective public universities are becoming less accessible—including those that have historically given low-income students a leg up—is extremely alarming.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Moving on up?: what a groundbreaking study tells us about access, success, and mobility in higher ed