College may not be the ‘great equalizer’—luck and hiring practices also play a role, a sociologist explains

The idea that a college degree levels the playing field for students of different socioeconomic classes has been bolstered in recent years. Research from 2011 and 2017, for example, found that earning a bachelor’s degree helped students from less advantaged backgrounds do as well as their better-off peers.

Jessi Streib, a sociology professor at Duke University, was skeptical. According to other research, everything associated with landing a good job – professional networks, high GPAs, internships, status symbols – is unequally distributed by class. To find out whether college is the “great equalizer,” or whether more is at play than a bachelor’s degree, Streib interviewed 62 students at a public university who were majoring in business – the most popular major. She also chatted with 80 hiring agents and formally interviewed many more employers. Here, she shares her findings.

Read more from The Conversation.


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