Welcoming Blue-Collar Scholars into the Ivory Tower: Developing Class-Conscious Strategies for Student Success
Author(s): Soria, K. M.
Citation: Soria, K. M. (2015). Welcoming Blue-Collar Scholars into the Ivory Tower: Developing Class-Conscious Strategies for Student Success. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition.
This book aims to bring attention to the varied experiences of working-class college students who have historically been marginalized in higher education. Specifically, the author seeks to reveal aspects of higher education that normalize middle and upper-class cultures using Bourdieu’s Theory of Social Reproduction alongside other frameworks, such as the academic capital formation theory. Using the lenses of precollege academics, the choice process, admissions policies, and financial factors, Soria explores structural barriers working-class students experience in accessing higher education. These structural barriers, the author asserts, contribute to working-class college students facing many hardships in their academic career. Social integration for working-class students, along with the cultural implications of forcing students to conform to a middle- and upper-class standards within higher education, is also discussed. Four social processes that aim to help students overcome barriers to higher education are identified: (a) financial aid opportunities that ease family concerns about educational costs; (b) mentors, teachers, and community leaders who develop supportive social networks in school and communities and help parents and students overcome fears about pursuing higher education by transmitting knowledge about college; (c) mentors and social networks who help students navigate systems and barriers by building knowledge about how to handle classism and racism; and (d) accurate, trustworthy information received at critical moments. Ultimately, social class should be a prominent concern when discussing college students’ success, social integration, and retention, and campus-wide policies to help working-class students are increasingly important.