Controversy continues to surround the social class debate in the United States of America. Some academicians do not subscribe to the view that the American society is both economically and socially divided in a way that reflects clear class divisions. This may be the genesis of the dispute on this topic. This view that divisions are absent is a contestable stamen which this paper will go along way in addressing.
For educational sociologists, performance in academics is socially structured (O’Connor, 159). It is sorry to say that this paper endeavors to reveal the whole story that confirms this claim. All the way through this paper, I focus on the discussion that the idea of class is with us and cannot be wished away. I also look at how it brings itself within the corridors of college placement. In addition, I will examine the current studies into class in the placement of students to college and how this affects the students in relation to the short term , medium, and the long term. Before I engage in the exposure of how college placement affects the societal social setting, it is imperative to review the major terms.
Social classification takes the form of a hierarchical ranking of individuals in society. The arrangement takes into consideration, the economic and social aspects of an individual or family. The bigger the amount of money that one possesses equally transforms into the kind of stratum that he belongs. Cultural considerations like: the race, the skin color, the creed, among other things, affect the social standing of a person in the society. It should however not e confused that this is the current case. Things have really changed and as of to day, it is misadvised for one to earn a social standing basically on the basis of skin color and other minor considerations. It is however true that in some parts such discrimination still persists.
Class is however, not immobile. Education is supposed to be an avenue for class mobility though only to a section of the society. This is because there are those who have already hit the highest class. For those in the highest class, the point is on how to retain the status. Those hopeful; to use the academic route in an attempt to rise the social ladder have to overcome several challenges. The major challenge that is being discussed in this paper concerns the placement of students into colleges.
College education as it will later become evident is an integral part of any individual that may be dreaming to make it big in regards to academic endeavors. However, certain constraints like college placement, and/or qualification requirements seem to be a big stumbling block in the acquisition of education. The placement measures have also had a domineering effect on social stratification.
There are various advantages that accompany the act of belonging to a certain social group. The major reason why people feel comfortable is because a social group offers to one a sense of belonging. It is not easily determinable in economic gain, but it is highly satisfactory when it comes to the psychological front. The overriding issue should not be the gains made from belonging to a class but rather the fairness and justice that are denied to the lower groups. The issue then becomes: are academic institutions in the United States of America providing for social segregation through their college placement program?
It is reported that almost all colleges in the United States of America give placement tests before offering admission to aspiring students. What baffles many is the criterion the colleges employ in selecting one and rejecting another. In the event that one fails to make the cut to join a college, some will offer remedial action. The funny side of this is that the remedial exams offered do not earn a contending entrant any credit though it costs a good amount of money. As a result of this, one is made to ponder the reasons as to why somebody should be forced through sitting an entry exam that does not in anyway add to the credit score of a student. However it has been noted that community college placement requirements are a pittance in comparison to the charges that are applicable to posh universities (Mathew, education page).
In reference to California, (Mathew, education page) expected that there would be good, straight, and well streamlined rules and regulations that reflects justice and fairness. The community colleges in California were found wanting in terms of their placement exams and qualification scores. Of the one hundred and nine community colleges in California, ninety five of them were found to be using different placement exams. (Mathew, education page) further reveals that the marking system differs in a way that biasely discriminates against others. He moves forward and states that this problem is not only confined to California but is also affecting almost all states in the United States of America. It is a very worrying occurrence given that a student who fails in one college can easily secure qualification in another one in the same town. A very interesting proposition because a very small discrepancy holds much sway in an individual’s future. Maybe it is a money raising venture that satisfies the powers that be while putting in line the futures of innocent students. According to (Mathew, education page), over seventy percent of the students who apply for college placement do not make it in the first place. They have to come back for remedial exams in order to meet the qualification standards. (Mathew, education page) has also found that many students who arrive for placement do not meet the requirements and as a result they are turned away.
College placement has arguably the biggest say in an individual’s future. It is at college where people make their lives. Restricting or controlling their placement to colleges, amounts to curtailing their future ambitions. When a student is denied entry into a college, the only remaining options are to seek alternative colleges or focus on doing something different.
The kind of school one attends is crucially determined by the kind of college attended. A more competitive college will reduce the range of choices available for students. The points garnered will condition one’s choices. The better the course of study one undertakes, then the better the chances of mobility in the social ladder. However, it should be noted that this is never guaranteed as personal effort also plays a critical. By failing to make a level play ground in the entry of colleges, we significantly alter the chances of success to the young students. Different fields of study fetch different levels of income. As such, confining some students to poor earning professions translates to condemning them to certain sections of society.
According to (Haynes, 1), people always seek to associate with people whom they share a certain commonality. The level of education is a major decider as to who one associates with. People with a university level of education for instance cannot hang with those that maybe dropped out of school at high school level. So this is a clear indicator on how college placement stratifies society. Having been placed to college to study different courses predisposes students to positions to secure different jobs. Securing plum jobs will classify a certain cadre, and acquiring average jobs will lead to another group. From this view, it is discernable that the education system is perpetuating the social classification agenda in the American society.
It is known that social class plays along term role in education of a student (Annon, 1). The children who come from poorer families stand a slimmer chance of making it in life as compared to those from richer families. If individuals were denied the chance to join college or they were relegated to the relatively inferior courses then there finances would be in the doldrums. Consequently, this will determine the kind of schools their young ones attend. In the young children’s minds would be the logic of inability. They would believe that their families cannot afford a decent education for them and as a result will find it hard to excel academically. In order to achieve something, the mind must at first believe that it is possible and can be done. In the absence of this, such children’s futures have been jeopardized.
According to (Wiley, 3), cultural capital is a great asset in the development of young people. However, this capital is only available to the well moneyed families. As it is evident from above, students who are denied placement are condemned to poverty in relative terms though. In this event, the schools available for their choice are thus limited. In the well to do families the reverse is the case. Everything that is necessary for all kinds of ventures is in place. So the onus is upon the privileged children to excel. Though success is never guaranteed, money and availability of opportunities is never an excuse. It is from this platform that the American society becomes a much classified society. By making opportunities available to one group, and denying the same another amounts to discrimination. Through this system, those from the rich families will always be rich, and those from the poor families will continue becoming even poorer. In relation to college placement, the rich will secure the best disciplines in the best universities while the poor will continue hustling for the few available opportunities in the community colleges.
A major consequence of class distinction that cannot be wished away is the attendant problem in regards to consumption of goods. Goods can also be very discriminative in terms of pricing. For a poor person, some goods are only available on the advertising screens. Those people that were able to attend posh colleges, and developed superior career options are the ones in a position to purchase the expensive brands of commodities. These two cadres: the poor and the rich, as a result will end up shopping in different localities. It is also true that they cannot live in the same place. The money factor simply eliminates the poor. If it is true that college placement will have a paramount effect on an individual’s life, then it will also narrow the range of options that are available to them. In this respect, college placement seriously affects how people relate in the American society. Residents from lavish neighborhoods seem not to be ready to mix with the middle or lower level categories of people in the society.
It should not be misinterpreted to mean that those students who do not make it to their preferred colleges will always be doomed. There are several cases of poor students who have secured college placement in the community colleges and gone ahead to be very successful. But the overall view is that college placement conditions the acquisition of education by students and as a consequence stratifies society to certain distinguishable social classes.
On the basis of this paper, it is evidently clear that the American institutions through their college placement program have systematically implanted the seeds of social stratification in the American society. As it has arisen, college placement determines your future. It decides the kind of people you can associate with as an individual, the kind of residence that you will inhabit, the type of goods that you can purchase, the kind of schools your children can attend, among other things.
Regardless of the primary causes of this issue that leads to segregation, issues have been exposed and it is time to take action. I call upon all the responsible agencies: the government, non governmental organizations, and college administration boards to consider revising this repressive system of college placement. A society cannot have two destinies. We are a single society and attempts to socially segregate against others do not portend well for the whole nation.
I however conclude that our institutions of learning: universities, colleges, primary level and high schools have continually separated the United States of America into clearly visible and identifiable social groups.