Ethnographic Notes B – Socio-Economic Class on a Campus by Erik & Michele & Emilee

Socio-Economic Class is a combination of behaviors and economic indicators that individuals use to identify themselves with a specific class within a broader group of people. This provides a person with a sense of self similar to that of gender. A person’s Socio-Economic class can change over time but is still partially informed by earlier classes that they have belonged to.

As pictured above Socio-Economic class can be a strong indicator of the level of education that a given person will be able to get. This is not simply a case of money though. Students from different classes also may lack the knowledge of how to navigate the higher education system. For example if the person who is teaching or a T.A. for your class is of a different socio-economic class it might be difficult to go to that person for assistance when one needs help. Also students who belong to a lower socio-economic class may have a difficult time attending class. For example they may not have their own vehicle with which to get to class. So instead must rely upon rides from a friend or public transportation if it is an option.

These class groups are normally formed and represented by material items. Whether a given person has the correct clothes or car. There is also a social aspect. These groups can be formed based on knowing the correct topics to discuss when engaging in small talk or the correct kinds of jokes to tell.



When applying for college a  lot of things are looked at to determine what school is right for you.  The biggest one is price. Ivy League schools are very expensive and only have a few scholarships for those trying to get in.  Mostly people who are very well to do can afford to go those schools.  Ivy league schools cost so much because they are considered to have the best teachers and the best resources. The people who go to these schools are considered by Americans to be better than everyone else.

State colleges are considered the next best, because they have a lot of resources, great teachers, more scholarships to offer and they cost way less than Ivy League schools. The people who attend these schools are considered average  Of course, depending on what state college you go to it might change.  University of Washington is considered a better education than Washington State.

Community colleges are considered the next best ones.  You can get a two year degree for less than what it costs to go to a 4 year state school and still get the same education as those schools. They also offer a lot of scholarships .  These people are considered to be some of the lowest in that most people think they can’t get into a regular college. I like to think of them as the smartest people because they are saving money by going to these schools and getting the same education.



Socio Economic status is constructed, symbolized, represented, and formed in a variety of ways on a college campus. The way that a person assimilates in to college can be attributed to their SES in many aspects. Factors such as access to academic resources, social resources, stress level, and depressive symptoms are associated with college students with low incomes. The implications of these factors can play a significant role in the likelihood of a student graduating from college. One example of how socio Economic status is constructed can be examined from a sociological perspective which tends to look at things like education, income and occupation.

For a college student, their parents SES are going to be a greater reflection of their status since they are fresh out of high school in most cases. Although there may be “hallmarks” of stereotypical attributes that are symbolic of low versus high SES, in college, the line tends to be blurred in terms of the physical representation of a student. For example, a young college student on the high end spectrum of wealth, may wear casual jeans and a hoodie on a regular basis. There are a lot of stereotypes when looking at things from a physical standpoint. However, this does not mean classism for is irrelevant on a college campus. There are many factors related to SES that may affect a students college experience and in turn, their success.

Works Cited:

Walpole, Marybeth. “Socioeconomic Status and College: How SES Affects College Experiences and Outcomes.”, 2003. Web 23 April. 2013.


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