Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Meritocracy at the Top Colleges

Is college admissions to the nation's top schools rigged? Need only the affluent apply?

I certainly don't believe it's rigged in any classic sense but there sure are inequities. And these lead to a class/economic divide.

No matter the occasional heart-warming stories of smart, plucky kids from poor neighborhoods making it to the big time of the Ivies; no matter the daydreams of middle class kids with the grades and scores to get them into a highly selective school. The top colleges, for the most part, select students whose image reinforce the notion that elitism is alive and well.

As this column points out, the president of Amherst, Anthony Marx, decided others needed a chance, too, and created a model that encouraged more low-and middle-income students to attend. Why did he think a change necessary. Marx mentions a Georgetown study that found that the class of 2010 at 193 of the most selective colleges had only 15 percent of students from the lower half of the U.S. income spectrum, while 67 percent came from the top 25 percent in income.

One of the significant changes Marx made was to admit transfer students primarily from community colleges.

More schools are looking at how to diversify while still having an exceptionally gifted student body. Cheers to the colleges who are working hard at being more fair.

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