Nov 10, 2021

Interactive: What impact does family income have on a child's chance of going to college?

Hat tip to teammate, Ryan, for sharing this interactive from The Upshot (subscription required). 

What makes this an interactive activity is students get to draw their answer to this question (using a touchpad) on a graph that has family income levels on X axis and college attendance rates on the Y axis. You also get a free tip knowing that your line has to pass through a certain point on the graph. 

Once you have made your guess, you can see how your line compares with reality (based on research on children born in the early 1980s), as well as how it stacks up compared to the almost 78,000+ NYT readers who had completed the exercise (as of last night). You also receive an analysis of where you had the biggest discrepancy from the research findings.

This exercise can lead to a rich classroom discussion using questions like:

  • How did your line compare with reality? Why do you think you made the error you did?
  • What is the relationship between family income and college going rates?  Do the results surprise you?
  • List the reasons that you believe that this relationship exists. 
  • How do colleges seek to boost enrollment of lower income students?
  • Do you believe that this relationship between income and college going is changing?  What direction?

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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