This article presents the main findings and reflections generated from a quantitative research on the social composition of students at Universidad de Chile and the speeches with which students explain their access to that institution. In this regard, we develop two main ideas. On one hand, Universidad de Chile has a highly homogeneous enrollment regarding the socioeconomic conditions of the students, making it possible to build a “student type” whose characteristics are primarily for the privileged possession of cultural and economic capital origin. On the other hand, we observed that, in a social level, students tend to explain educational attainment based on a speech focused on the effort and talent of individuals, what we associate with an ideology of meritocracy. While referring to their own educational attainment, students tend to explain it with their socioeconomic characteristics, which is slightly more pronounced among students who have greater cultural and economic capital of origin.
In Chile adult education has been transformed dramatically in recent decades, both by reforming its curriculum as the age composition of their students. Today, population using this type of education is no longer working adults who seek to complete their studies, they are mostly young teenagers who may be in regular education, which have drop out . The situation becomes even more complex because this educational alternative is one of the following options of study for young offenders. These complex realities have been little studied, not only in the Valparaiso region, but all the country. The article presents results of an empirical, quantitative approach, conducted between 2010 and 2011, aiming to characterize young users of adult education, between 14 and 18 years in the Region of Valparaiso. Young people are mostly single, living with parents and often have children. They have abandoned the regular education more than anything to have problems with teachers and not understand their explanations. They have chosen adult education mostly because it presents the differences compared to regular education.