The Experience of Low-SES Students in Higher Education: Psychological Barriers to Success and Interventions to Reduce Social-Class Inequality

Mickaël Jury*, Annique Smeding, Nicole M. Stephens, Jessica E. Nelson, Cristina Aelenei, Céline Darnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

The economic decline of the Great Recession has increased the need for a university degree, which can enhance individuals’ prospects of obtaining employment in a competitive, globalized market. Research in the social sciences has consistently demonstrated that students with low socioeconomic status (SES) have fewer opportunities to succeed in university contexts compared to students with high SES. The present article reviews the psychological barriers faced by low-SES students in higher education compared to high-SES students. Accordingly, we first review the psychological barriers faced by low-SES students in university contexts (in terms of emotional experiences, identity management, self-perception, and motivation). Second, we highlight the role that university contexts play in producing and reproducing these psychological barriers, as well as the performance gap observed between low- and high-SES students. Finally, we present three examples of psychological interventions that can potentially increase both the academic achievement and the quality of low-SES students’ experience and thus may be considered as methods for change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-41
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Volume73
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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