The Exceptional Opportunity Gap in American Higher Education

The Exceptional Opportunity Gap in American Higher Education

The Exceptional Opportunity Gap in American Higher Education

The Exceptional Opportunity Gap in American Higher Education

There are 17.5 million undergraduate students enrolled in colleges and universities around the country. The number of minority students enrolling in college has grown considerably in recent years as a result of expanded access to higher education; nevertheless, this gain has not been evenly distributed among races and socioeconomic classes. As a result, these disparities have come to be recognized as the opportunity gap.


In the face of the opportunity gap, we must ask ourselves questions such as: What is one of the consequences of more individuals having college degrees? And, more importantly, why is equality so vital in this context?


We’ll discuss all of this and more in detail. Examine the reasons why low-income students do not attend college (or are less likely to do so) and how online schools are expanding college opportunities for low-income students in this section.

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What is the Opportunity Gap, and how does it affect you?

Generally speaking, the opportunity gap refers to variables beyond of a person’s control that lead to lower rates of educational achievement, employment possibilities, and general goals than they otherwise would be. Race, gender, language, family conditions, economic levels, and other aspects are examples of such variables.




When compared to children who are born into the lowest five of the income distribution, those who are born into the top fifth are twice as likely as those who are born into the bottom fifth to become middle class or higher in their adult years. This number alone demonstrates how a child’s upbringing may have a significant impact on his or her whole life trajectory.


While America does give opportunity for everyone, the playing field is not always level to begin with, which has long-lasting consequences. When it comes to college enrolment at American colleges, the discrepancy may be observed immediately.




A Look at the Facts and Figures

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, over 23,000 students who were in 9th grade were monitored to determine how many had enrolled in college by February 2016. The data demonstrate that the opportunity gap is in full force and effect.


Here are a few of the more notable ones:


Socioeconomic position has an impact on college enrolment, which is not distributed evenly across students (SES). More over 90 percent of students in the top socioeconomic quintile enrolled in college, compared to just 56 percent of students in the lowest socioeconomic quintile enrolled.

Economic position has a significant impact on enrollment, maybe even greater than real academic aptitude. 



According to the statistics, kids who get the highest scores on math skills testing enroll at a rate that is 18 percent lower than that of their peers from the top socioeconomic quintile who achieve equivalent scores. Kids from the highest socioeconomic quintile who have the lowest test scores enroll in college 73 percent of the time, compared to just 41 percent of students from the lowest socioeconomic quintile who have poor test scores, according to the study.



With regard to elite universities, white students are more likely to enroll than students of color or those of Latino descent. To provide an example, a white student has a greater chance than a minority student of attending an elite institution by more than double. This is crucial to highlight since elite institutions often lead to high-paying and selective occupations, which in turn contributes to the opportunity gap in life as a whole after graduation.



Because, as previously stated, children who are born into better economic status households are more likely to grow up to be middle or upper class adults later in life, the opportunity gap extends beyond schooling and has a cyclical influence on society.


How to Close the Gap in Possibilities

Although the opportunity gap has always existed, it does not have to be the reality in every situation. There are recommended policies and approaches to assist in closing the opportunity gap, which attempt to address the reasons that have traditionally hindered one’s capacity to have equal access to higher education and other opportunities.




Among the policy proposals are the following:


Health-related issues: Students from all backgrounds should have equitable access to healthcare and preventive treatment so that they may arrive at school ready to learn and in excellent physical and mental health.

Identify the needs of minority children: Minority kids are more likely to live in less safe areas, to have more health problems, to have parents who are overworked, and so on. All of the outside influences may have an impact on their motivation to learn and/or capacity to concentrate. As a result, it is critical to determine the genuine requirements of minority students in order to be able to correctly measure their academic strengths and weaknesses in order to guarantee that if they are not performing to standards, it is not due to external reasons.
Rewrite the financing laws: When public institutions and primary schools are supported by state and federal budgets, it is essential that the money be distributed evenly throughout communities and school districts.


Educate students with a broad curriculum: Institutions should draw on resources from a variety of cultural backgrounds in order to better reflect the diverse student population.
Restructure testing: Tests have evolved into a tool for enforcing state and county standards, rather of serving their intended function of providing instructors with a means of assessing students’ learning and comprehension. Reform testing:




The Negative Consequences of the Opportunity Gap in Higher Education

The opportunity gap has long-term consequences that extend beyond the confines of academic institutions. When students, particularly those enrolled in postsecondary education, do not finish their degrees, they have a lower chance of landing a well-paying job in the future.


Having a college degree increases your chances of landing a job with better pay and advancement opportunities. In this particular instance, the data reveal a gender disparity (similar to the opportunity gap for race/social position, but with relation to gender). 



Nonetheless, earning potential for graduates of either gender who possess a bachelor’s degree is unquestionably greater than for those who do not hold a bachelor’s degree. Males with a bachelor’s degree, for example, will earn $655,000 more in median lifetime earnings than men with just a high school certificate, as an illustration. Women are entitled to an additional $450,000 in compensation.


Higher earning potential is more likely to result in the ability to sustain a higher standard of living (access to good schools, healthcare, mobility, etc.)



Education for all students on an equal footing

In American colleges, the opportunity gap is prominent. In order to solve the problem, we first need to be aware that it exists and then be open to proposing ideas that will help bridge the educational opportunity gap.


It is just one step ahead to have access to online colleges such as University of the People. In order to close the opportunity gap, education reform must be implemented in order for America to see the day when enrollment is not determined by a student’s socioeconomic or racial background.

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There is a disparity in educational opportunities.


Our failure to provide career technical education in high schools in the United States has resulted in the formation of an opportunity gap for children with average and poor academic achievement. By provision, I mean a course of study in which students participate in a succession of career technical education courses that prepare them for work after high school graduation. 



Students must complete a number of career technical education courses in a sequential manner in order to obtain the essential abilities to be considered employable. Kids who aren’t brilliant enough to go to college and who don’t have considerable work skills and soft employment abilities are left out in the cold in America’s economy.




Many Americans believe that our nation is the finest location in the world to take advantage of the chance to live here and make a success of one’s life. A common phrase used to describe our young people is that they are “lifting themselves up by their bootstraps.” The fact is that they will be unable to obtain meaningful jobs unless they acquire substantial technical job abilities as well as soft skills. As a result, they have little possibility to get employment.




 This lack of opportunity is undemocratic, and it represents a failure on the part of the United States. Once we realize that the concept of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps is a fallacy, it becomes a political matter for mayors, governors, and presidents. I can see our politicians pointing fingers at one other in an attempt to pin the responsibility for the crisis on someone else.





Instead of refusing to collaborate with school boards, I can envision our elected officials putting up significant effort to fix the problem. Creating new prospects for our young people via career technical education is something I can see governors, mayors, and presidents touting throughout their campaigns. This process might be aided by newspapers and television newscasters reporting on the complexity of work today and the need for high schools to give vocational education to kids who are average or below average in their academic performance.





Almost every country in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia already requires that college-bound students complete a program of career technical education courses before entering college. This is the road that will save our young people from a life of crime and jail while also enabling the development of a highly qualified workforce in the United States. 900 hours of occupational education are provided via a four-year sequence of high school career technical education. This is more than enough time to train students in technical skills necessary for today’s workplace.





Some instructors are concerned about children who are on the periphery of the curriculum, where they may be able to complete a college prep high school curriculum with a great deal of work. We all know that in the United States, 70% of students will not complete their college education. As a result, we shouldn’t be concerned about a few youngsters on the periphery. Let us be concerned about the overwhelming majority of high school kids. With regard to the American educational system, the question of opportunity is the most pressing concern.




 By not giving our low and average achievers with technical job skills and soft skills, we are leaving them to fend for themselves, and this must be recognized. Anyone who takes the time to examine will see that the “fending for oneself” procedure does not work. It is past time to take a step back and acknowledge that our high schools are failing our children. When our young graduate from high school, they are badly disadvantaged due to a lack of opportunities to develop employment skills. Then we employ the criminal justice system to put them behind bars. And then we point the finger at the children and their parents.





While this may seem preposterous in light of the fact that these young people have not been given the chance to gain job skills and participate in the workforce, It is because of our culture that they have been denied the chance to create anything of themselves. 





Instead of our young people, the failure is the failure of our society, and more especially, our secondary schools. Our society’s leadership has prompted our young people to react in the only manner they know how: by rebelling. The school-to-prison pipeline is the reaction of far too many of our children and youngsters.

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