"Nowadays it is fashionable to talk about race or gender; the uncool subject is class."

bell hooks (2000).  Where we stand: Class matters.  New York: Routledge.

In 1990, the average cost of tuition for one year of graduate training was $4,135 (U.S. Department of Education, 2019).  By 2018, that cost had risen to $18,947 (U.S. Department of Education, 2019).  When adjusted to reflect the value of the dollar in 2017-2018, a student in 1990 would have paid $8,080 for one year of graduate tuition and a student in 2018 would have paid $18,947.  This represents an increase of 134% in the cost of tuition over 28 years.  Meanwhile, median household income over the same time period rose just 4% (U.S. Department of Education, 2018).  Thus, today’s graduate students face an economic reality in which wages have remained relatively stagnant while the cost of education and living have increased dramatically. 

 

The counseling profession has a rich history of promoting awareness of, and respect for, issues pertaining to multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice.  Counselors are called to be cognizant of the ways in which constructs such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious identity, and social class influence an individual's experience of the world and their encounters with privilege and oppression.  Similarly, counselor educators are called to pay attention to the experiences of their students with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious identity, and social class and to work to reduce privilege and oppression in their own programmatic and institutional structures.  Indeed, a great deal of attention has been paid in the counseling literature to how issues of privilege and oppression based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religious identity affect the experiences of students in training programs.  Yet comparatively little attention has been paid to how issues of privilege and oppression based on social class affect students in training.  Given the widening economic disparities in society and the increasing cost of graduate training, it is important for counselor educators to understand the economic realities of their students and examine the ways in which the structure of their training programs may create obstacles for all but the most economically privileged.

References

U.S. Department of Education, Institution of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2018).  Table 102.30: Median household income by state: Selected years 1990 through 2017.  In U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (Ed.), Digest of Education Statistics (2018 ed.).  Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_102.30.asp

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics (2019).  Table 330.50: Average graduate tuition and required fees in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution and percentile of charges: 1989-90 through 2017-18.  In U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (Ed.), Digest of Education Statistics (2019 ed.).  Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_330.50.asp?current=yes

"To challenge racism or sexism or both without linking these systems to economic structures of exploitation and our collective participation in the upholding and maintenance of such structures, however marginal that engagement may be, is ultimately to betray a vision of justice for all."

bell hooks (2000).  Where we stand: Class matters.  New York: Routledge. 

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