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Underprivileged teens more likely to drop college ambitions

Early intervention could increase the number of teenagers from less privileged backgrounds who go to college, a new study suggests.

The research published in the Oxford Review of Education analyzed how young people’s expectations of applying to universities change between the ages of 14 and 17. It found that those from less advantaged backgrounds were more likely to lower their expectations than their more advantaged peers. This was true even when comparing individuals with the same test scores.

Compared to the most advantaged fifth of young people, the least advantaged fifth had more than twice the probability of switching from being ‘likely to apply’ to ‘unlikely to apply’, the study found. The most advantaged fifth had more than twice the probability of changing from being ‘unlikely to apply’ to ‘likely to apply’.

How young people reacted to new information on their academic attainment at age 16 also depended on their background. For those with higher socioeconomic status, improvements in exam results were significantly more likely to raise expectations of applying to college.

“These findings suggest that part of the socioeconomic difference in university applications has its roots during the period when potential applicants are aged between 14 and 17 and, as such, it’s not too late to target policies at this age group to try and narrow the gap,” said study author Jake Anders of UCL Institute of Education.

Early intervention to maintain college expectations rather than trying to raise them later is likely to be more successful, Anders said.

“Sixteen could also be a key age for interventions,” he added. “This is a difficult point in time to reach young people as many move between educational institutions or leave full time education altogether.”

By: David Beasley, Staff Writer

Source: Taylor & Francis Group

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