Max Weber used the term 'Life chances" to say that you are generally a victim of circumstance and that social class and status can and will affect your life outcome. (reference).
Personally, I can relate to this. I grew up in a single parent family with four younger siblings and had to work very hard to get to the point I am today. I had to be motivated to keep going even when things were hard and things were expensive. College was going to have to be done on my own, but I am not sure that was a negative thing either. Yes, I am STILL paying for my own education, but I also feel like I appreciated the experience in a completely different way than someone that may have had the means to go without the financial responsibility. I didn't have your typical college experience. I didn't live in dorms. I didn't party (I didn't have the time or the energy :)) I started at a community college, graduated with an associate's degree and then transferred to a university and I worked a full-time job plus did on-campus work study while going through school, but now I have a degree and a career that made it all worth it. So did I miss out on some things? Probably, but I did what I needed to do to get it done.
I think a lot of times we let ourselves be victims of circumstance. Yes, it is more difficult for someone with limited means to get to all the places they may want to go, but they shouldn't let that limit them. A lot of times I feel that personality and drive plays into all of this quite a bit too. It is difficult to not want to give up when things are harder for people and it is also difficult to not take things for granted when things are easier for people. As a kindergarten teacher, my students believe anything is possible and their dreams are limitless and it is unfortunate that the older they get that their big dreams begin to fade and reality sets in. I often think about the dreamers they once were. My first students are now high school students and I wonder if they continue to have high expectations for themselves and believe they can achieve anything they work hard for.
As teachers, I feel we should encourage our students to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams and goals. Motivation can be very powerful.
I found a true story that is an example of life chances that I felt was worth the read. Inequality and Life Chances: Going to Law School or Going to Prison