Do we all have an equal opportunity to succeed in life?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is, to some degree, a matter of personal opinion.  I would argue very strongly that we do not all have equal opportunities to succeed in life.  It may be true that we have equal legal opportunities (though this is questionable in my mind), but we certainly do not have equal opportunities to succeed in real life.

We can argue that people have equal legal opportunities to get ahead.  All people of all races and all income levels are equal in the eyes of the law.  We do not have, for example, schools that are legally reserved for whites or for rich people.  Poor people and people of color are not legally prohibited from holding certain jobs.  Thus, we can say that we have equal opportunities.

However, I would disagree with this conclusion in two main ways.  First, poorer people do face real barriers to success.  In the US, people of similar incomes tend to live together.  Our schools are largely funded by local property taxes.  This means that schools in rich towns are better-funded than schools in poor towns.  This means that poorer people don’t get an education that is equal to what richer people get.  In addition, a poor child generally grows up in an environment that makes it harder for them to succeed.  For example, a recent study has shown that children of poorer and less-educated parents have 3 million fewer words spoken directly to them in their first four years than children of professional parents do.  The study shows that this puts them at a major disadvantage as they enter school.  I would argue that these factors (and others) show that poorer children do not have an equal opportunity to succeed.

Second, it is clear that not all individuals (even within a given social class) have the same opportunity to succeed.  People are born with different sorts of interests and aptitudes.    Because people are born with different levels of various kinds of aptitudes, they do not have equal opportunities.  A person who is born, for example, with dyslexia or ADHD does not have the same opportunity for success as a person who is not.  Thus, even if we could say that people of all economic and ethnic groups have the same chance to succeed (which I do not believe), there is no way that we can say that all individuals have the same opportunities.

It may be that we all have the same legal opportunities to succeed in the United States.  However, this does not mean (in my view) that all people truly do have equal opportunities to succeed in life.

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jess1999's profile pic

jess1999 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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In my opinion, we don't have an equal opportunity to succeed in life. For example, if you compare someone that comes from a well-off family living in a developed country and someone whose family is struggling in a developing country, one would know that the first family would have more of an opportunity to succeed in life. They have more of an opportunity because they have money to give their children an education, and money to support what they want to do with their life. This is why I believe that not everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in life.

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Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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Taken from a more global perspective, we all most definitely do not have an equal opportunity for success. A migrant worker from Mexico, a village girl in India; these people are most definitely at a serious disadvantage due to simply where they were born. There is not even a remote haphazard attempt at equalizing the global stage. Its all a matter of access to resources. We are all incredibly fortunate to have the luxury to be discussing this. 

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lauraspencer90 | eNotes Newbie

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In a basic sense, yes. The Constitution and its Amendments have set up a system in which everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. But, if you take a closer look into the backgrounds of those who we consider "successful," in that they have wealth, property, etc., they are overwhelming white, and were born into very wealthy families. There are always exceptions to those who come from nothing, but in the end, if you start from wealth your chances of staying wealthy are much better. Then again, people define success in different ways, and it does not necessarily need to be indicative of wealth.

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tyler-k | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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From a purely factual standpoint, minorities have less success and opportunities in their lives than majorities. That being said, having simply the opportunity for success does not mean success will come. While minorities tend to receive less benefits in things like school and work, many people have overcome a life of poverty and managed to build their career and success later on in life. So in theory, yes we should all have an equal opportunity to succeed in life, but rarely is everything fair for us all. 

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amysor | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I do not think that evertbody has a equal oppurtunity to succed in life. Those who have more money and connections are able to recieve more oppurtunites than poor people. Of course, a poor person who works hard can achieve this oppurtunities, but they would have to work twice as hard.

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clyoon | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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No, we do not all have equal opportunity to succeed in life. This is because there are still prejudices, biases, racism, and etc in everyone's mind. Minorities have less opportunity, people with mental and physical disorders have less opportunity, and veterans. There are more people other than the ones I've mentioned who have less opportunities than others. It's hard to give everyone equal opportunity because employers have biases and personal feelings toward different groups of people. Many are judged before being talked to or before employers have a chance to talk to them. People with records of crimes before are also given less opportunity. People who have no connections to certain positions or companies also have less opportunity because there can always be people with connections that can get in. People who were born weaker or with illnesses are also born with less opportunity because their bodies physically or mentally cannot cooperate with some life activities. 

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arrellbelle | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I believe that a majority of people may be able to agree with me about there being 'no' equal opportunity for success in life because you need to take into account tragedies or events that have occurred in the past where African Americans and Women were mistreated and led to believe that they were to be submissive. Even as you fast forward into 2014, a lot of people still don't have the right time or tools to help them succeed. A lot of people were given an advantage in terms of money, intelligence, or connections. Other people were not born well off and had to work hard to get to where they want or need to go.

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parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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No, because everyone, to a certain extent are, biased, and depending on that, opportunities are already not equal for everyone.

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maria-vivanco | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Theoretically, we all have an equal chance in life to succeed and to pursue what we want. however, factors such as money and social status intervene with such opportunity. So in reality, we don't have all have an equal chance in life. The economic situation of your family growing up determines your education and the type of enviroment you grow up in. For example, if one is surrounded by people who don't care about college and success, the chances are that the person will become to that ype of lifestyle and it will take more to get out of that lifestyle. Also, you might believe that type of lifestyle s fine. There are also exceptions however this doesn't mean that everyone has equal opportunity. The society we live in today makes it hard for people to succeed without a college degree and that becomes a problem when not everyone has the money to pursue college. For some people it takes more effort and work for them to successful. Someone who is raised with money and has connections has a greater opportunity to succeed than someone who doesn't. It will be easier for them. Everyone has different cirmustances which determines the opportunity to be successful in life.

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kath555554444 | Student | (Level 1) Honors

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This question is mostly a opinion question but there can be some facts to support this question.

First, it depends on where you started out. You have a higher chance of succeeding if you started on a decent to more wealthy base. But you tend to have a lower to 50-50 chance of succeeding if you started from a less wealthy base.

Second, it depends on the path one wants to take. Everyone has a choice to choose which way they want to go to succeed. Different jobs has different ways to achieve it and has it's harder of easier ways. So you may succeed but it way take a longer time compared to others.

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acompanioninthetardis | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Not really because of opinions and biases in the public, things like racism or just plain hatred towards certain people disables them to get the same oppertunity other people might be able to take. I can say this from first hand experience. 

rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I would say everyone has a chance to succeed, but not an equal chance. Your chance for success depends a lot on where/how you grew up. If you are born into a family with a lot of money and connections with people, you may have an easier chance of becoming successful. If you are born into a less financially stable family you would have a harder time. Don't get me wrong, people who are not wealthy can still succeed, they may just have to push themselves harder, which is not an equal chance.

There is also another factor to consider and that is your attitude. If you have a positive, optimistic attitude you are going to have a better chance of succeeding than someone who sees only negatives.

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Not everyone has an equal opportunity in life to succeed. Sometimes those with the most benefits don't do anything with what they're given and sometimes those who have no help at all become famous. It all depends on how you take a hold on life. Sometimes those with more money can be extremely dumb can buy their way into college by money, but there are also some very hardworking kids who strive to do their best with the little they have. For example just recently in the news a senior in high school was HOMELESS, he slept on the streets he didn't even eat all the time but he became a star player in his baseball team AND Valedictorian of his high school. This proves that you don't need to have the best opportunities to take a hold of life. This is only one of dozens of examples that are prevalent to this question. 

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CaitlynnReeves | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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No. 

While we may all have the potential to push ourselves to succeede we do not start on equal platforms. 

I could talk about socio-economic factors that may limit a person. There are arguments that those factors do not matter much since there are examples of people who have overcome them. There are also people who have been given the perfect mixture of wealth and economic status who never succeed. 

The fact is we are all wired differently (and that's a good thing). However, some people are more intrinsically motivated. They are more driven and have a higher chance of being succesful. The flip side of this coin is that, because we are all wired differently, we all have different images of success. I suppose what I am getting at is this: we all have the equal oportunity to succeed differently.

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