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The "Cooling-Out" Function in Higher Education

Burton R. Clark
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 65, No. 6 (May, 1960), pp. 569-576
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2773649
Page Count: 8
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The "Cooling-Out" Function in Higher Education
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Abstract

The wide gap found in many democratic institutions between culturally encouraged aspiration and institutionally provided means of achievement leads to the failure of many participants. Such a situation exists in American higher education. Certain social units ameliorate the consequent stress by redefining failure and providing for a "soft" denial; they perform a "coolign-out" function. The junior college especially plays this role. The cooling-out process observed in one college includes features likely to be found in other settings: substitute achievement, gradual disengagement, denial, consolation, and avoidance of standards.

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