How the college admissions process illuminates the reality of the American caste system

By Rebecca Renner ~ Daily Kos ~

Upward mobility is a scam, and most of us have already been duped.

To my dad, “the American Dream” meant being able to create a better future for his children; in other words, to ensure I had opportunities that he did not. My dad was a college dropout, and so was my mom. For most of my childhood, we lived from paycheck to paycheck. But he was determined to help me make something more out of my life. The most important step on the road to a better future, at least to him, was for me to go to college.

High school teachers and guidance counselors promote the same agenda, as do the colleges themselves. But statistics show that upward mobility is increasingly unlikely for most Americans, and the rates of relative intergenerational mobility, the stuff my father’s American dreams were made of, haven’t improved in years, even though millennials like me are ostensibly the most-educated American generation to date.

Earning a college degree can improve your chances for economic mobility, but the college you attend does matter. Where you were born on the economic ladder helps, too. Middle-income students have better odds of earning more than their parents than most lower-income students do.

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