"The knowledge and prudence of the poor themselves, are absolutely the only means by which any general and permanent improvement in their condition can be effected." - Thomas Malthus
I teach. I have taught thousands and a minority fraction of those that were poor even attempted to go to university. Most simply scoffed at the entire idea of university as a stupid idea.
Just facts that I don't think the vast majority of those arguing against me even have a clue about.
Like you said they will only finish high school because they are led by the hand by teachers. If not for the teachers and the low standards to pass high school these kids wouldn't even get a diploma. University? Forget about it...
Of course kids from rich families are more likely to succeed. The rich kids get sent off to private schools showered with private funding where they can interact and become friends with the children of other people in positions of power and participate in a variety of enticing extracurriculars while the poor kids attend underfunded, overcrowded public schools where they have no real role models and have to work professionally unimpressive part-time jobs to support themselves and their families.
Or, instead of segregating themselves educationally, the rich segregate themselves geographically and you get 99% white public schools funded about as well as private schools, but still have virtually zero social integration. Like the public school I was lucky enough to go to due to my parents' success.
Educational inequality is much much much worse than wealth inequality, because it creates social immobility. To have true social mobility, all kids needs to have access to the same quality of basic education in their formative years, regardless of their parents' assets or what neighborhoods they live in. And poor and rich kids need to interact with one another. This would also help the social/political division between the rich and poor - if people of different income classes actually interacted with each other ever.
(avatar by Thomas Nast)
"When Faith preaches Hate, Blessed are the Doubters." - Amin Maalouf
Oh, it's a huge advantage no doubt. Since you mention college, the difference is usually not taking out tens of thousands in debt, a free car, study abroad, internships in south africa or summer classes without having to work, dropping 'hard' classes with no fear of losing financial aid, eating out anytime one feels like it, and hell, my first roommate decided dorms were too ghetto, so his parents quickly got him a hotel to stay at. Mentioning that i always had to share a small room with a sibling had no impact on his entitlement syndrome.
Being from a poor background means listening to crybaby 'adults' whine that they had to settle for 1st class seats instead of their parent's private jet, while you had to save up from a minimum wage summer job to drive a beat up rental car. It's where i learned there is no end to the bull**** spoiled brats will expect handed to them.
But how the hell is someone supposed to get into an elite college, coming from a school system that doesn't offer a single class foreign language, calculus, chemistry, business? Or a ghetto in detroit with 50 kids per teacher?
But of course, the pampering begins much earlier. Just about any obstacle that a rich kid faces growing up can be overcome simply by their parents buying their way out of it.
Also, a primary reason so many kids change majors is they do not discover their passion early on. It's much easier to do so when $ is no obstacle and you can literally travel the world and have access to people/mentors who have found success in a given path, or at the very least, attend some posh K-12 that offers classes in a far wider range of subjects. I knew how utterly inferior my K-12 was at helping me identify a passion, when i realized i had never heard of 80% of my college's majors.