I know it’s not real news to most of us that America’s Ivy League and other elite colleges accept mainly students from affluent families. Is it the fault of these colleges that they fail to recruit from low-income families and propagate such disparities? Do rich students, regardless of merit, have privileged access to these expensive institutions to the detriment of more able and deserving students coming from modest or low incomes? There are stories that Harvard, Duke or other Ivies use preferential criteria in their admissions favoring children of “celebrities, politicians, investment bankers, venture capitalists who have been generous to their alma mater”! The disparity between rich and poor is widening in colleges and universities as disadvantaged students are hard to find in America’s most advantageous colleges. On the other hand, there are those that explain the shortage of low-income students among selective colleges by the very fact that very few of them ever try to apply! In their book Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education, William Bowen, Martin Kurzweil, and Eugene Tobin explain that students from low-income families tend early in life to fall behind and get discouraged about the whole college admissions process.
Where does the truth lie? For a more detailed discussion on the reasons behind these discouraging trends read Scandals of Higher Education. The article is based on a series of new book publications on the subject, all of them available for you to request through the Summit catalog!