EIGHT MILLION MORE BY 2020? THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION ON UNDERGRADUATE ATTRITION IN THE U.S.
Tuckley, Lauren E
The modern day labor market requires workers with an increasingly sophisticated set of skills. Globalization and the technological revolution has significantly impacted and profoundly changed the labor market over the past decade. In order for the United States to retain an economic competitive advantage, it must dramatically increase its number of highly skilled, educated workers. In order to do so, the U.S. is in desperate need of boosting the percentage of college-educated citizens and taking steps towards remedying the high numbers of students who attend, but do not complete, their undergraduate education. As it stands now, only 57% of matriculated college students graduate in the United States.Understanding this alarming dropout trend, the Obama Administration has called upon the American public to increase its overall number of college graduates by eight million within the next ten years. While the graduation goal is meritorious in its aim, it fails to consider why the U.S. is unable to graduate so many of its matriculants.This thesis asserts that social stratification, the culture of poverty, and the possession of "culture capital", or lack thereof, affects the dropout rate, and claims that the Obama Administration's primary focus on pecuniary-based policies fails to comprehensively consider why students drop out. The impact of social class and the lack of "cultural capital" on dropouts will be elucidated in this thesis through a review of the NCES data on they types of students who drop out; by looking at stakeholder policy recommendations; through an analysis of social stratification and its impact on upward social mobility; and, by examining the role that institutional fit plays in undergraduate persistence. Finally, the understanding that policy initiatives and programmatic solutions aimed at remedying the attrition condition will require sensitivity to, and consideration of, social class background will be made evident.
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