The American Dream


The American dream is a concept of the United States where by the democratic ideals are viewed as an assurance of prosperity for its citizens. The American dream was first expressed in 1931 by James Truslow Adams; he proposed that every citizen regardless of their rank should be given a chance to achieve a happier, richer, and better life; with chances available for each individual depending on achievement and ability. The idea of the American dream can be found in the declaration of independence, the second statement states that all human beings are equal and that their creator has given them certain indisputable rights including liberty, life, and pursuit of happiness.

In today’s economy, higher education is viewed by many Americans as the gateway to achieving the American dream. Similar to other developed countries with a vast majority of citizens who have completed high school education, higher education is highly valued by the American society. Higher education is one of the key determinants of status and class, just like income the level of higher education differs by geography, configuration, household, age, and race. In general, demographics and households with the highest level of attainment in education in America are among those who are wealthy and having high household income. This clearly indicates that educational attainment and the achievement of the American dream are highly correlated.

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For me I believe that pursuing a career in computer science and getting a masters degree in the same field will enable me to work in future as forensic computer guy for the government. This will enable me to achieve my American dream because I am sure that higher education will enable me to get a good job and earn an excellent salary This research paper aims at discussing the role of educational attainment in contributing to the American dream and the factors that affect educational attainment such as social status, immigration, and other factors.

The role of college education

One of the most significant investments that can be made to improve the well being of an individual is to be able to access higher education. Advancing in education can lead to remarkable economic, social, private, and public benefits. It is evident that individuals who have attended college, on average have higher savings, higher salaries; more productivity both personally and professionally, increased life expectancy, and better health. For instance, national data indicates that US employees who are above 18 years old and with a high school diploma on average earn approximately $27,000 each year, whereas for those having a bachelor’s degree on average earn over $51,000 each year which is almost double the salary for holders of high school diploma. The superior salaries of college students lead to more revenue that is used for government expenditures. This revenue is raised from the increased collections of taxes and also through savings in the budget as a result of reduced expenditure on social service. In addition, by raising the number of college graduates, the government is able to save a lot of money in avoided social costs each year, due to reduced unemployment and welfare, lower crime rates, and improved health. Higher education also leads to other social benefits such as volunteerism, more charitable contributions, and higher voting rights. In summary investing in higher education is investing in the well-being and future of an individual and this will enable that individual to realize the American dream

In the present high-tech economy of America, the public believes that having a college education has substituted the role of a high school diploma in achieving the American dream, according to a survey carried on the views of Americans on the role of higher education. This survey was carried out by public agenda, and it was presented to the public nationwide through numerous non-profit firms. The survey found out that over 87% of the public is of the idea that a college education has replaced a high school diploma as the doorway to the middle class.

For parents having students in high school, over 62% of those interviewed are of the idea that higher education it extremely essential for their children. The survey showed that the value of college education is higher among the parents with lower participation rates in college education. Hispanic and African American parents are more likely to stress the need of higher education as compared to white parents. When asked to identify the most important factor that a child requires the most to succeed in today’s world, about 47 percent of African American parents and 65 percent of Hispanic parents chose college education. This is different as compared to white parents, where only 33 percent chose college education, but this percentage is higher as compared to other choices like good work ethics and being able to cope with people. All in all, these statistics indicate the value placed on college education in attaining the American dream.

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Immigration and higher education

Many immigrants view the United states as a nation where, through perseverance and hard work, on can be able to attain improved lives for their families and for themselves. Nevertheless, in America today, achieving the American dream is nearly impossible without access to higher education. The unfortunate fact is that not all students who complete high school and qualifies for college education have the chance to access adequate and equal benefits of college education. Most immigrants encounter considerable challenges in succeeding or accessing higher education. According to a recent report prospective college students encounter barriers such as inadequate knowledge of the system of higher education in America, heavy family and work responsibilities, insufficient finances, limited proficiency in English, and different educational backgrounds. All these factors influence the ability of immigrants to navigate the complicated process of getting financial aid and admission to colleges. In addition, they are faced with the challenging procedure of getting a college credential.

Even for those immigrants who migrate to America as children, getting accustomed to the educational system of America is quite hard. Most young immigrants face challenges in learning English and catching up with their secondary and elementary peers. According to a study done recently in Georgia, found out that Latino immigrants have a hard time in comprehending how the American educational system works. In as much as these parents want to assist their kids to excel in school, many found it hard to communicate with administrators and teachers when their kids had school-related problems.

The government can take care of these deficiencies in economic and educational competitiveness by introducing immigration reforms, and enacting the DREAM act. This act is a bipartisan legislation that will enable industrious and talented young immigrants to acquire citizenship and this will assist them to access college education and to pursue their professional aspirations and goals as citizens of America. In addition the act will make easier for the government to offer financial aid and tuition to students, without regarding their status of immigration (Erisman and Shannon 3).

Social class and higher education

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In the United States, Educational achievement is among the basic indicators of social class. Whereas the social class system in America is a loosely defined notion with numerous theories that are contradictory, educational achievement is seen as among the top ways of measuring social class. In addition to being a status symbol, educational achievement is also closely linked to other key indicators of class such as income and occupation. Having a bachelor’s degree and approximately 8 years of post high school education are viewed as the key requirement for one to become a professional and be classified under the middle class professionals. Education is a contributor to becoming a member of the privileged middle class. Failure in educational achievement is the main barrier to realizing the American dream because it is the gateway to becoming a professional and getting a better income (Heather 52)


It is clear that for one to achieve the American dream of wealth, fame and success, hard work is crucial and especially in education. The American society views higher education as the gateway to success and one of the best means of attaining the American dream. Advancing in education can lead to remarkable economic, social, private, and public benefits. For individuals who have attended college, on average have higher savings, higher salaries, more productivity both personally and professionally, increased life expectancy, and better health. All of these factors greatly contribute to the American dream; however the access to higher education is influenced by factors such as social class and immigration. For young immigrants, it is hard for them to access higher education because most do not have legal citizenship. This has led to the huge investments made by the Obama administration in education so as to increase the number of students able to access higher education by dramatically expanding and restructuring college financial aid, and making federal programs more efficient, reliable, and simple. The president has established a plan to deal with college completion and to reinforce the pipeline for higher education to make sure that more students complete and succeed in their degree.

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