If you’re born into the poorest quintile, and don’t get a college degree, you have a 32% chance of making it into the middle class or above (top 3 quintiles). That rises to 62% if you get a college degree. Getting a college degree doubles your chance of having a successful life (if having a successful life is defined as rising to the economic middle class). You have an 84% chance of doing better than your parents.
If you’re born into the top quintile and get a college degree, you have a 54% chance of doing as well as your parents, and an 89% chance of making it into the middle class or above. That drops down to 64% if you don’t get a college degree.
In other words, you’re almost as well off being born poor, but getting a college degree, than being born rich, but not going to college.
If the American dream is about being able to work hard and become successful, then it appears that the American dream is still alive and well–if you’re able to earn a college degree.