‘Low-Income Students and the Perpetuation of Inequality’

With a lingering recession sending Americans (back) to college in record numbers, and an administration determined to improve the country’s record on degree attainment, higher education, more than ever, has plenty of public attention. But a new book argues that higher education in the United States is falling ever more short on a variety of fronts — particularly when it comes to those students who, theoretically, should stand to gain the most from it.

In Low-Income Students and the Perpetuation of Inequality: Higher Education in America (Ashgate), author Gary Berg uses both quantitative data and information gleaned from personal interviews with students and professors to show how students from poor families are shortchanged at every stage of their postsecondary education, from admissions practices that discriminate against them, to the numerous obstacles they face getting through college, to the lesser benefits they reap after graduation. There is a great deal to be done on each of these fronts, Berg argues, if higher education is ever to live up to its promise — to disadvantaged students, and to society at large.

Berg, who is dean of extended education at California State University Channel Islands, talked to Inside Higher Ed via e-mail about the themes and implications of his book.

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