By Nathan J. Daun-Barnett. In a 21st century knowledge economy, countries across the globe are struggling with growing their stock of college educated workers while balancing concerns over the equitable distribution of opportunities to attend college.  The U.S. system is among the most “accessible” in the world, in the sense that nearly any high school graduate can find a place to enroll and potentially earn a degree.
In practice, that “American Dream” frequently goes unrealized in greater proportions for lower income families and under-represented minority students. As a consequence, much of the college access literature in the U.S. addresses these forms of social stratification in analyses and implications.  There is, unfortunately, a disconnect between the theory and evidence presented by the research community and the range of policy alternatives initiated at the state and federal levels. There are at least two problems that make research difficult to translate into policy – the research community does not operate as quickly as the policymaking process, and as a result, evidence that can be brought to bear quickly by federal agencies may be given disproportionate weight by policymakers seeking to legislate policy solutions. See more...