Jennie Brand, UCLA – Benefits of Higher Ed

Dr. Jennie Brand

Dr. Jennie Brand

The idea and purpose of obtaining a higher education is likely similar regardless of who the student is. One attends college to further their understanding of concepts and hopefully gain the knowledge and experience necessary to start a career in a chosen field.

However, as Jennie Brand, a professor of sociology at UCLA, will show us: the benefit of attending college is different for each student.

Dr. Jennie Brand is a professor of sociology at The University of California Los Angeles. She studies social inequality and its implications for various outcomes that indicate life chances. Her research agenda encompasses three main areas: (1) access to and the impact of higher education; (2) the socioeconomic and social-psychological consequences of disruptive events, such as job displacement; and (3) causal inference and the application and innovation of quantitative methods for panel data. See CCPR Working Papers for recent working manuscripts and Google Scholar and Pub Med for published works.

Who Benefits Most From Higher Ed?

AMicoWho stands to benefit the most from college? The students who are least likely to go.

The economic value of a college diploma is nearly twice as high for women from disadvantaged backgrounds as for women from privileged backgrounds. For disadvantaged men, the lift is even greater: A college education is worth three times more for them than for privileged college-goers.

In collaboration with my colleague Yu Xie, , we show that being African American or Latino and coming from a lower-income family in which neither parent had attended college decreased the likelihood that a high school student would pursue higher education. So did poor grades and low standardized test scores.

By contrast, high school students were more likely to pursue higher education if they came from privileged socioeconomic backgrounds, had parents with at least some college education, had high ability and high levels of high school achievement, and had friends who planned to go to college.

However, the lowest financial return is among those students who are most likely to go to college.

We based our research on a survey of over 12,000 American individuals who were 14 to 22 years old when they were first interviewed in 1979 and who were followed through 2008. The survey tracked the earnings of these individuals up to age 40.

Classic economic theory argues that high school students consider the costs and benefits of going to college and choose to go if the benefits outweigh the costs. According to this theory, students who stand to benefit financially are the ones who attend college.

This study’s findings refute that idea and underscore the potential value of reaching out to poor and minority youth with less-educated parents and other traits that have been shown to reduce their chances of going to college, and emphasizing its potential benefits.

Read More: Disadvantaged students reap most financial value from college education, study finds

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