David Brooks rightly claims that it is a national crisis that United States college completion rates have been flat for the last 35 years. But his diagnosis is incomplete.
He claims: “Lack of student aid is not the major reason students drop out of college. They drop out because they are academically unprepared or emotionally disengaged or because they lack self-discipline or because bad things are happening at home.”
This misses the important role that family wealth plays in college completion. In fact, my own research shows that only two background factors matter for college completion: parents’ own education and parental net worth. Race, what job parents hold — none of that matters.
This salience of wealth suggests that student aid has an important role to play, since for disadvantaged students, aid functions like financial equity in easing stress at home and blunting hard tradeoffs (between work and school, for instance). Financial aid and student psychological factors go hand in hand.
Put a couple of faces on that and you have Dolores and Rick.
The letters are most satisfying. Now, if only all those Ed.D.'s would just read them. I would volunteer to help them sound out the big words. Oh no, she didn't.