The publication by Attewell et al. provides an in-depth analysis of the effects of higher education on life opportunities and accomplishment in a long-term perspective for the representatives of minority and underprivileged populations. Overall, the author’s choice of the topic is influenced by the increased attention of public discourse toward free tuition, the open-space approach to higher education that utilizes affirmative action for enrollment (Attewell et al. 2007: 2). Since the efforts to achieve equity and equality in access to education across the US have been criticized, claiming its devaluing impact on post-secondary education, the authors aim at measuring the realistic outcomes.
Given the level of research into the topic and the overall relevance of higher education in contemporary society, the authors aim at addressing the following research questions in their study: Is it possible for young underprivileged women to benefit from open-access enrollment in higher educational institutions? How is parents’ college attendance correlated with children’s higher education enrollment? How do the findings from the City University of New York (CUNY) compare to other programs (Attewell et al. 2007: 2-3)? The scope of the study includes women from underprivileged backgrounds who were enrolled in open access programs at CUNY in the 1970-s and the aftermath of their education for their children across different spheres of life. Therefore, the researchers’ thesis is that attendance of higher educational institutions has a long-term persistent payoff that reaches beyond graduates’ professional and economic accomplishments but affects the opportunities for their children.
The methodology used for this research was a longitudinal cohort study using a survey method for data collection and interpretation. The sample of female participants reflected the cohort of students enrolled in CUNY in the 1970-s (Attwell et al. 2007: 4). Further, a comparative analysis method was applied to compare the findings of the survey with the results of a similar survey. Thus, the study contributed to the evidence-based discussion of realistic long-term outcomes of affordable higher education for underrepresented populations and provided a basis for continuous research and public policy-making.
Attewell, Paul, et al. Passing the Torch: Does Higher Education for the Disadvantaged Pay off Across the Generations?. Russell Sage Foundation, 2007.