Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Class Mobility and College Dropouts

Via George comes this interesting story about rising numbers of college dropouts. Even more fascinating in the context of this project were the links off to an interactive exploration of class mobility and the related poll results (pdf). Belief in class mobility is the underpinning of the American Dream, which I've been somewhat critical of because it is so vague. I think many of use the American Dream as a stand-in for our aspirations, but the nebulous belief gets oversimplified as "I need to make more money than I'm making now so I can afford the lifestyle I want", without reference to the values we really care about. This stuff is squarely in the middle of lifestylism.


An Epistemology said...

Interesting. As a college dropout, that would be consider middle class, yet I live in a upper middle class world due to our family's lifestyle (living on a lake in one of the nations wealthist counties). I came from an educated upper middle class family. I was glad to read that UVA is also giving more finicial aid to middle income students. I think there is a whole group being overlooked. Baby Boomers tend to have a huge amount of debt (as opposed to their depression raised parents), thus affecting their X-generation children.

Jeremy said...

I think many of the college dropouts will be from middle-class families, partly because it seems to be an unquestioned assumption that those kids will go to college and many of them can't figure out why they're there.

And the ones who find out what they want to do will probably do very well despite their drop-out status.

Anonymous said...



What does a parent do when a 22-year-old "child" with a really brilliant mind and a truly compassionate heart decides to drop out of top college and live at home and threatens that the only way he'll leave the house is if we forced him out, i.e. called the police. He's given to unpredictable outbursts and verbal assaults. For the rest of the family members, life has becoem a nightmare. Life on a daily basis is like walking on egg shells. Pl. help. Even if he may qualify to be a psychiatric case, he refuses to seek outisde help and in fact, such talk triggers his outbursts.

I'm also interested to know what other dropouts are doing to stay busy.

Thank you.

Desperate Mom.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like me. Most 22 year olds are expected to have graduated already. Pressure from parents success and friends' graduations can lead a young person to believe that they have fallen behind too much to change anything.

do you want your son to join the army today? I wouldn't, but that is just about the only occupation that does not require some post-highschool education.

After dropping out, the doors of opportunity close. your son probably knows this, he just doesn't know what to do about it. If he is acting crazy it might be because he feels trapped and devalued as a person. It happens.

Try daily goal setting with the objective of getting a job, moving out of your house, and beng part of some community (church, gym, community service, whatever). What could help is distance from parents physically, emotionally, and financialy. If u can't allow that distance, the situation might not get better.

labamba84 said...

Well for the desperate mom, there is tons of things a college dropout can do. Is hard, I understand your son I did the same thing. He feels like his life is over, but he will overcome this. I become a better person, more confident and happy with my place in the world. Be patient and try to help him get out of this face. By the way I have a blog about dropout is http://theboomerangkids.blogspot.com/ tell your son to check out and maybe he can get some ideas.