[Marxism] FW: How Higher Education Really Works...

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Mon Oct 1 09:10:04 MDT 2007


I would have just sent the URL on this article, but it's long and certain to
get messed up.  And the article's short enough for its content....

ML


-----------
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/09/28/
at_the_elite_colleges___dim_white_kids?p1=email_to_a_friend

Peter Schmidt
At the elite colleges - dim white kids
By Peter Schmidt  |  September 28, 2007

AUTUMN AND a new academic year are upon us, which means that selective
colleges are engaged in the annual ritual of singing the praises of their
new freshman classes.

Surf the websites of such institutions and you will find press releases
boasting that they have increased their black and Hispanic enrollments,
admitted bumper crops of National Merit scholars or became the destination
of choice for hordes of high school valedictorians. Many are bragging about
the large share of applicants they rejected, as a way of conveying to the
world just how popular and selective they are.

What they almost never say is that many of the applicants who were rejected
were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular
belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative
action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most
of the worthier applicants aside.

Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have
found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's
highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their
institutions' minimum admissions standards.

Five years ago, two researchers working for the Educational Testing Service,
Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, took the academic profiles of students
admitted into 146 colleges in the top two tiers of Barron's college guide
and matched them up against the institutions' advertised requirements in
terms of high school grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, letters of
recommendation, and records of involvement in extracurricular activities.
White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice
as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an
admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.

Who are these mediocre white students getting into institutions such as
Harvard, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Virginia? A
sizable number are recruited athletes who, research has shown, will perform
worse on average than other students with similar academic profiles, mainly
as a result of the demands their coaches will place on them.

A larger share, however, are students who gained admission through their
ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors,
faculty members, administrators, and politicians topping the list.

Applicants who stood no chance of gaining admission without connections are
only the most blatant beneficiaries of such admissions preferences. Except
perhaps at the very summit of the applicant pile - that lofty place occupied
by young people too brilliant for anyone in their right mind to turn down -
colleges routinely favor those who have connections over those who don't.
While some applicants gain admission by legitimately beating out their
peers, many others get into exclusive colleges the same way people get into
trendy night clubs, by knowing the management or flashing cash at the person
manning the velvet rope.

At the elite colleges - dim white kids

By Peter Schmidt  |  September 28, 2007

AUTUMN AND a new academic year are upon us, which means that selective
colleges are engaged in the annual ritual of singing the praises of their
new freshman classes.

Surf the websites of such institutions and you will find press releases
boasting that they have increased their black and Hispanic enrollments,
admitted bumper crops of National Merit scholars or became the destination
of choice for hordes of high school valedictorians. Many are bragging about
the large share of applicants they rejected, as a way of conveying to the
world just how popular and selective they are.

What they almost never say is that many of the applicants who were rejected
were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular
belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative
action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most
of the worthier applicants aside.

Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have
found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's
highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their
institutions' minimum admissions standards.

Five years ago, two researchers working for the Educational Testing Service,
Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, took the academic profiles of students
admitted into 146 colleges in the top two tiers of Barron's college guide
and matched them up against the institutions' advertised requirements in
terms of high school grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, letters of
recommendation, and records of involvement in extracurricular activities.
White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice
as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an
admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.

Who are these mediocre white students getting into institutions such as
Harvard, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Virginia? A
sizable number are recruited athletes who, research has shown, will perform
worse on average than other students with similar academic profiles, mainly
as a result of the demands their coaches will place on them.

A larger share, however, are students who gained admission through their
ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors,
faculty members, administrators, and politicians topping the list.

Applicants who stood no chance of gaining admission without connections are
only the most blatant beneficiaries of such admissions preferences. Except
perhaps at the very summit of the applicant pile - that lofty place occupied
by young people too brilliant for anyone in their right mind to turn down -
colleges routinely favor those who have connections over those who don't.
While some applicants gain admission by legitimately beating out their
peers, many others get into exclusive colleges the same way people get into
trendy night clubs, by knowing the management or flashing cash at the person
manning the velvet rope.
Page 2 of 2 --

Leaders at many selective colleges say they have no choice but to instruct
their admissions offices to reward those who financially support their
institutions, because keeping donors happy is the only way they can keep the
place afloat. They also say that the money they take in through such
admissions preferences helps them provide financial aid to students in need.

But many of the colleges granting such preferences are already
well-financed, with huge endowments. And, in many cases, little of the money
they take in goes toward serving the less-advantaged.

A few years ago, The Chronicle of Higher Education looked at colleges with
more than $500 million in their endowments and found that most served
disproportionately few students from families with incomes low enough to
qualify for federal Pell Grants. A separate study of flagship state
universities conducted by the Education Trust found that those universities'
enrollments of Pell Grant recipients had been shrinking, even as the number
of students qualifying for such grants had gone up.

Just 40 percent of the financial aid money being distributed by public
colleges is going to students with documented financial need. Most such
money is being used to offer merit-based scholarships or tuition discounts
to potential recruits who can enhance a college's reputation, or appear
likely to cover the rest of their tuition tab and to donate down the road.

Given such trends, is it any wonder that young people from the wealthiest
fourth of society are about 25 times as likely as those from the bottom
fourth to enroll in a selective college, or that, over the past two decades,
the middle class has been steadily getting squeezed out of such institutions
by those with more money?

A degree from a selective college can open many doors for a talented young
person from a humble background. But rather than promoting social mobility,
our nation's selective colleges appear to be thwarting it, by turning away
applicants who have excelled given their circumstances and offering second
chances to wealthy and connected young people who have squandered many of
the advantages life has offered them.

When social mobility goes away, at least two dangerous things can happen.
The privileged class that produces most of our nation's leaders can become
complacent enough to foster mediocrity, and less-fortunate segments of our
society can become resigned to the notion that hard work will not get them
anywhere.

Given the challenges our nation faces, shouldn't its citizens be at least a
little worried that the most selective public universities - state flagships
- dominate the annual Princeton Review rankings of the nation's best party
schools, as measured largely by drug and alcohol consumption and time spent
skipping class and ditching the books?

Should Harvard, which annually turns away about 2,000 valedictorians and has
an endowment of nearly $35 billion, be in the business of wasting its
academic offerings on some students admitted on the basis of pedigree?

Peter Schmidt is a deputy editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education and
author of "Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War Over
College Affirmative Action."











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