Anush Patel

Faculty Advisor

Michael Graham

Document Type


Publication Date



Ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic groups continue to underperform compared to white majority populations in higher education attainment. According to Jackson (2012), the most disadvantaged populations are Black and Black Caribbean in terms of access and attainment of higher education.

One possible explanation for this is cultural dissonance. Cultural dissonance includes language difficulties that creates difficulties in communication with educators that can lead to a decrease in motivation to continue pursuing higher education (Heath & Brinbaum, 2007).

Currently, the system of higher education is directly impacted by individual's socioeconomic circumstances. According to Thomson (2018), wealthy individuals seem to perform better in standardized testing which reflects having a more efficient access to resources needed for academic preparation.

This may have an impact on the types of higher education that individuals from lower socioeconomic background can obtain. For example, wealthy individuals might not be as interested in less prestigious forms of higher education such as certificate programs and trade schooling trainings as much as individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

It can be considered part of human nature to rely upon incentives to take action toward improving one's life situation and circumstance. Thus, the previous statements that highlight how socioeconomic backgrounds may not be providing enough incentive and motivation to breakthrough societal financial obstacles to achieve higher educational attainment.

In the following sections of this paper, academic performance, underperformance trends, public education compared to private education, and monetary incentives. will be explored to highlight that humans rely on incentives to take action; in the case of underachieving student’s financial incentives should be enough to allow students to take action and improve their academic performance. so that more awareness can be found around potential ways to circumvent previously established obstacles that prevent individuals from acquiring more knowledge.