The effect of educational attainment on adult occupational status is often exaggerated,but higher education is nonetheless an important route to a good job. The middle class have always made disproportionate use of this tool for self-advancement,and the gap is not narrowing. The role of tuition charges and academic tests in maintaining the middle-class advantage is not as great as many suppose; class differences in motivation probably play the decisive role. Even if access to higher education became more equal, however, this would not necessarily make American life more satisfactory. The central problem seems to be inequality, not immobility,and while the two are closely related, measures intended to achieve one may not promote the other.

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