Education as the Great Equalizer? Think Again, Says New Research
New study from faculty at NYU Stern School of Business, Kellogg School of Management, Marshall School of Business and Université de Paris finds first-generation college students experience a cultural mismatch, contributing to worse experiences and academic outcomes than their peers whose parents went to college
NYU Stern Professor L. Taylor Phillips, Kellogg School of Management Professor Nicole M. Stephens, Marshall School of Business Professor Sarah S.M. Townsend and Université de Paris Professor Sébastien Goudeau tracked the progress of students at highly-competitive U.S.-based colleges throughout their academic careers. Key takeaways from their joint research include:
- First-generation students experience an initial cultural mismatch by embracing interdependent, or mutually dependent, cultural norms that differ from the independent cultural norms commonly found within many U.S. colleges.
- As result, first-generation students experience a reduced sense of “fit” and belonging, leading to both lower grades, by .18 GPA points, and social status upon graduation.
“Expanding access to college is an important first step to reducing inequality,” added Professor Stephens. “However, it’s also critical to create an environment in which they can thrive after they’ve made it through the gates. Universities need to intentionally craft policies and practices that create a sense of belonging among first-generation students and that ensure that they can reap similar rewards from their educational experience.”
The paper, “Access is Not Enough: Cultural Mismatch Persists to Limit First Generation Students’ Opportunities for Achievement Throughout College,” was recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.