Cooling out and leveled aspirations among low-income university stem students

Heather Haeger, Regina Deil-Amen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although our society has made college more universal through vastly increased access to postsecondary education, college completion has stagnated, and the return on a college degree varies by field of study. Therefore, gaining admission to college-even a four-year college-is no longer a guaranteed ticket to social mobility. As colleges and universities attract and enroll more diverse populations of students, the barriers to student success once enrolled remain prominent concerns. To explore stratification processes regarding student success, choice of major, and completion, interviews were conducted with 41 low-income students at a large research university. These interviews illustrate the ways that students' aspirations are lowered after entering college and how the coolingout process functions within STEM majors. The primary catalyst facilitating the lowering of student aspirations and migration out of STEM majors was negative experiences in introductory math and science

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-96
Number of pages28
JournalResearch in Social Problems and Public Policy
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Sociology and Political Science


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