In college, students open themselves up to a more diverse community, where many people come from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
According to the most up-to-date Facebook analysis from 2016-2017, Keene State College has a majority of students coming from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In fact, only 35% of the undergraduate students are in-state residents. Every incoming class joins the KSC community in which they can grow and learn from. However, it’s hard for students to understand the diverse range if their peer’s backgrounds.
A recent study by the General Next Organization (GNO) reported that having educated parents correlates to higher academic achievement for their kids. GNO’s report further states that “Better-educated parents are more likely to consider the quality of the local schools when selecting a neighborhood in which to live. Also, by participating in parent-teacher conferences and volunteering at school, they may encourage staff to attend to their children’s individual needs.” The report ultimately concludes that communities in which parents are highly involved with their local school board are more likely to produce high-achieving students.
However, if we think critically about the fact “highly-educated” parents are more likely to have star-pupil children, this begs the question, does family income affect a student’s school performance? The GNO answers yes, parents can use their socioeconomic capital to promote their child’s development. For example, a rich social background will teach a child to how to behave and speak properly as well as educate them on cultural references. A rich financial background allows their children to pursue more extracurricular activities that the school may not offer for free.
If we are considering whether high-income families improve their child’s academic achievement, we also must look at the effects of low-income families. On the other side of the fence, there are students with social and financial disadvantages, which inevitably affect school performance. According to the National Education Association (N.E.A) inner city schools where a majority of students come from low-income families, account for half of the nation’s dropout rate. The main contributing factors found to affect school performance in these inner city schools were high student-mobility rates, scarce amount of academic resources and the high teacher-mobility rate.
Student-mobility refers to students who move constantly because of divorced parents, frequent home eviction, parent-job loss, and other factors. Also, schools with a majority of low-income students have fewer academic resources to assist with their education. Because education funding comes from the local communities tax-dollars, poorer communities struggle to afford these resources. Lastly, the high teacher-mobility rate in inner-city schools suggests that teachers are more likely to leave hard-to-teach urban schools after a few years.
Furthermore, the significant change in family structure over the course of the last ten years correlates to poor student behavior. The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a survey which found that students with unmarried parents, one parent, or lived with a guardian were far more likely to face school suspension and grade repetition than those with married parents.
Though these are all serious issues, it is hard to conclude that these effects alone determine a student’s performance, emotional stability, or character. A study of negative-income-tax that the Federal Government issued in 1968 showed only mixed effects of income on children’s outcomes. There are many life experiences and other factors that shape who we are as individuals; family income does not determine a person’s value or their destiny. Consider this as you walk down Appian way passing familiar faces on your way to class: Where did they come from? How did they get here?
Katie Jensen can be contacted at