Film a cross profile of people in an interview setting. Ask them their job, background and level of education. Ideally, this would be from older, well-to-do to younger less well-to-do. This should show a correlation between education level and success. Ask them at what point they decided to go as far through school as they did. How fully this will show that kids early on decide if they will go to college or not.
Kids aren't dumb, they know what their chances of going to a good school are and whether or not they can afford it. They know long before they're college age. If they know they're not going to go far, why put in any effort? Sure, there are exeptions that the right will bring out. But those are the few that are willing to swim against the current. On the flip side, you can't convince me that if Quayle and W. weren't privileged like they are, that they would have gotten as far as they have.
A long time ago, this was suppose to be the education administration. People talk about how to improve academic scores and get kids to do better. No one has bothered to ask the kids.
I don't think you should try to push kids, you should entice them with the benefits of education and the assurance that anyone that has the grades to attend a good school has the money to back it up.