The number of students enrolling at community colleges is on the rise. This increase is accompanied by an increase in the proportion of all undergraduate students that attend community colleges. Currently, almost half of all undergraduate students are enrolled in community colleges. However, opportunities for even the most talented of low-income students remain limited. Opportunities for these students to transfer to selective four-year institutions are few and far between. In fact, the number of such opportunities is shrinking. (Dowd & Gabbard, 2009)
While some efforts are being made by a select group of highly selective four-year institutions, much more can be done. A coordinated effort from highly selective institutions has the potential to significantly increase the number of low-SES transfer students by reaching out to talented community college students, educating high school and community college students about financial aid, and actively working on their respective campuses to break down cultural barriers.
The failure to take the initiatives described above would mean that the existing cultures at elite four-year colleges would be preserved. This would neutralize the role of elite higher education institutions as vehicles for upward social mobility.
The lack of diversity in the socioeconomic backgrounds of students will also hurt the overall ability of institutions to truly diversify their student bodies and provide an education that nurtures the institution of critical thinking, promotes the understanding and acceptance of differences, and above all prepares students for success in the world that they will enter as graduates.