The idea that opportunity for education should be based on your ability to learn and not on your economic class status is a warm-and-fuzzy one, but in reality, it just doesn’t happen. A short piece by Dorothy Wickenden in this week’s New Yorker explains how getting into college is much easier for the rich — both liberal and conservative. From the article:
Yet, according to the Century Foundation, only three per cent of students at the hundred and forty-six most competitive colleges come from families whose levels of education, jobs, and income put them in the bottom socioeconomic quarter. Seventy-four per cent come from the top quarter. More startling, recruitment of minority and low-income students actually fell in recent years. In response, some collegesâ€”including Harvard and Princeton and some of the most influential small liberal-arts collegesâ€”now offer substantial subsidies to freshmen whose parents earn less than a middle-class income, and these schools are also working harder to seek out such candidates.
Nevertheless, the most selective colleges are still overly generous to applicants from the kinds of family least in need of a leg up in life. Legacies, the children of alumni and alumnae, have long had an easier time getting in. On top of that are the development casesâ€”the term of art for the often less than academically stellar children of celebrities, wealthy executives, and influential politicians. As Daniel Golden, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, explains in his new book â€œThe Price of Admission,â€? Ivy League college presidents, admissions deans, and trustees spend a great deal of time and effort soliciting these lucky students, many of whom are admitted with S.A.T. scores three or four hundred points below those of some rejected applicants. [full text]