How economic class can affect education
In today's society, education is an essential part of pursuing a high standard life or a career. Social class and educational performance are closely related to each other. As a result of this, students coming from a lower social class have a limited access not only to the higher levels of education such as universities and colleges but also to primary and high schools.
A study was conducted in the US under the title of Achieventrap, analysing data of 3.4 million k-12 children in American schools. It was found that children who came from households with incomes below the national median had score in the top quartile on nationally normed tests. These children, generally speaking, start school with weaker academic skills and are less likely to achieve the top of his/her possibilities over the years in school, compared with the children coming from better income families. The results of this kind of researches are quite discouraging, and only in the US. In Greece, by the late 90's, the number of students enrolled into the 1st grade of junior high school amounted to approximately 131.000 students. In the 3rd grade of junior high school, there were about 112.000 students enrolled. A number of approximately 19.000 students did not appear to have enrolled anywhere. The main reason of this 'drop-out' is the economic status of the country; children are forced to leave school due to the very severe financial condition their families experience.
The poor economy impacts education in plenty of ways starting even from the elementary school. As an example we can view some areas that are struggling economically. The standards in the infrastructure sector are below the mean, this including the facilities, such as buildings, grounds, classrooms, textbooks, etc.Consequently, these conditions affect the mentality of the students. The "psychological disappointment" that students experience when comparing their expectations with what they are actually provided with in schools, creates 'psychological obstacles' for a further educational evolution.
Furthermore, there is a tendency that schools that are struggling with economical problems, while trying to find solutions to 'survive' in this financial crises, give less importance to the level of the tutoring (less professor provided, limited facilities, etc.). Consequently, the level of education these institutions provide is much lower compared with those not facing financial problems.
Moreover, we can say that people, starting from a very early age enhance the process of learning by being exposed to the outside world. The exposure to different places, events, people, etc., send certain simulations to the brain, creating this way a certain image or prospective about life, which is even more reinforced as children grow up. For example, children coming from poorer families, by general definition, travel less. This 'limitation' of exposure to life and possibilities, will greatly affect their expectations of life. Unlike them, children who come from well-off families are exposed to a larger variety of possibilities and thus, are more advantageous in pursuing a better education, and in general, have better expectations and opportunities in life.
Also, another very essential factor is the mentality parents pass on to their children. Some sociologists believe that this is because the working class culture is fatalistic. Some parents present the general bad economical situation as a fixed situation that cannot change. This can greatly affect children, in the sense of 'encouraging' them not to put much effort in the learning process but to concentrate more in working hard in order to 'survive' in life. Quite often, children coming from these families are more likely to start school without the ability to read or understand even the more basic things and concepts.
In my opinion, despite the fact that free K-12 education we are provided with, if a person who belongs to a lower social class decides to obtain a university degree, he/she will have to face a lot of obstacles and put a lot of effort to achieve his/her goal. One way to afford paying for the tuition fees is to get a job. This, on the other hand, will limit the time spent on studying or going out with friends and families and can even cause sleep deprivation. All these factors can subsequently cause stress and anxiety, can affect the performance in classes and thus limit future opportunities in pursuing an even higher level degree (Master's, etc.).
In addition to that, another option in affording to pay the tuition fees is the student loan. This, however, is not always a preferable option as students feel that they are in 'a deep debt' which they will have to pay off as soon as they graduate. The unpredictable future as well as the financial crises limiting the opportunities of finding a job nowadays, can, again, create anxiety and stress, something that students whose families can afford to pay for their tuition fees are not faced with.
Closing, I would like to emphasize that, it is very essential that the governments put more effort in the development of more anthropocentric education systems. Providing a variety of programs as well as facilitating things for the children who lack the financial luxury to pursue a higher degree, but who have a great will to learn and have a lot to offer, will only benefit the country in having a brighter future.