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Lesbians and other teens less likely to attend college according to new study

"Fitting In, Standing Out: Navigating the Social Challenges of High School to Get an Education"

A new study out of the University of Texas at Austin has just released a study announcing that teens who “don’t fit in” are less likely to attend college. That made me somewhat of a “duh” conclusion, but what might be even more interesting that that two groups who are at particular risk are gay and overweight females. They found that girls who are obese are 78% less likely to attend college than non-obese girls, and those who are gay, are 50% less likely to attend.

“Kids who have social problems — often because they are overweight or gay are at greater risk of missing out on going to college simply because of the social problems they have and how it affects them emotionally,” says Robert Crosnoe, a Sociology Department professor and Population Research Center affiliate. “Not because of anything to do with intelligence or academic progress.”

Crosnoe has completed one of the most comprehensive studies of the long-term effects on teenagers who say they don’t fit in. He used national statistics from 132 high schools and spent more than a year inside a high school in Texas with 2,200 students, observing and interviewing teenagers. His findings will be published in his new book Fitting In, Standing Out (Cambridge University Press, April 11).

I find this study interesting and potentially important but, at the same time, I have reservations. The policy shifts that it may enable are crucial but I hesitate to take away too much agency from disenfranchised youth. Being different is not always bad; it can often be quite empowering. Many of us thrive on it and many that have had it tough have succeeded to even greater degrees than silver-spooners.

I also hesitate to make the leap that things like depression or marijuana use leads directly to an inability to go to college. Just ask any Reedie.

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