No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life

Princeton University Press
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Against the backdrop of today's increasingly multicultural society, are America's elite colleges admitting and successfully educating a diverse student body? No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal pulls back the curtain on the selective college experience and takes a rigorous and comprehensive look at how race and social class impact each stage--from application and admission, to enrollment and student life on campus. Arguing that elite higher education contributes to both social mobility and inequality, the authors investigate such areas as admission advantages for minorities, academic achievement gaps tied to race and class, unequal burdens in paying for tuition, and satisfaction with college experiences.

The book's analysis is based on data provided by the National Survey of College Experience, collected from more than nine thousand students who applied to one of ten selective colleges between the early 1980s and late 1990s. The authors explore the composition of applicant pools, factoring in background and "selective admission enhancement strategies"--including AP classes, test-prep courses, and extracurriculars--to assess how these strengthen applications. On campus, the authors examine roommate choices, friendship circles, and degrees of social interaction, and discover that while students from different racial and class circumstances are not separate in college, they do not mix as much as one might expect. The book encourages greater interaction among student groups and calls on educational institutions to improve access for students of lower socioeconomic status.



No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal offers valuable insights into the intricate workings of America's elite higher education system.

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About the author

Thomas J. Espenshade is professor of sociology at Princeton University. Alexandria Walton Radford completed her PhD in sociology at Princeton University and is the associate director of postsecondary education at MPR Associates Inc. in Washington, DC.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 12, 2009
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Pages
568
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ISBN
9781400831531
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Higher
Education / Multicultural Education
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Minority Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “A disturbing exposé of the influence that wealth and power still exert on admission to the nation’s most prestigious universities.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“A fire-breathing, righteous attack on the culture of superprivilege.”—Michael Wolff, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Fire and Fury, in the New York Times Book Review
 
In this explosive book, based on more than two years of investigative reporting, Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden shatters the myth of an American meritocracy, disclosing what elite colleges won’t tell you. Naming names, along with grades and test scores, Golden lays bare a corrupt system in which middle-class and working-class whites and Asian Americans are routinely passed over in favor of wealthy white students with lesser credentials—children of alumni, big donors, or celebrities. He reveals that colleges comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding and crew and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children.
 
The Price of Admission is a must-read not only for parents and students with a personal stake in college admissions but also for those disturbed by the growing divide between ordinary and privileged Americans.

Praise for The Price of Admission
 
“Deserves to become a classic.”—The Economist
 
“I was bowled over by The Price of Admission. . . . This book is essential reading for anyone connected with higher education.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard
 
“If you or your child is applying to a selective college this year, here’s a reading assignment: Pick up a copy of The Price of Admission. . . . [Golden] details the ways colleges chase after the children of the rich and powerful.”—The Dallas Morning News
Affirmative action in higher education started in the late 1960s as a noble effort to jump-start racial integration in American society and create the conditions for genuine equal opportunity. Forty years later, it has evolved into a swampland of posturing, concealment, pork-barrel set-asides, and—worst of all—a preferences system so blind to its own shortcomings that it ends up hurting the very minorities educators set out to help.

Over the past several years, economist, law professor and civil rights activist Richard Sander has led a national consortium of more than two dozen nonpartisan scholars to study the operation and effects of preferences in higher education. In Mismatch, he and journalist Stuart Taylor present a rich and data-driven picture of the way affirmative action works (and doesn’t work) in this setting.

Though their liberal leanings would indicate support for race-based policies, Sander and Taylor argue that the research shows that affirmative action does not in fact help minorities. Racial preferences in higher education put a great many students in educational settings where they have no hope of competing—a phenomenon that they call “mismatch.” American law schools provide a particularly vivid illustration of how “mismatch” harms the educations and careers of many minority students. Compelling evidence shows that racial preferences double the rate at which black students fail bar exams and may well in the end reduce, rather than increase, the aggregate number of black lawyers.

Moreover, because preferences are targeted at upper-middle class minorities, they help shut low-income students of all races out of much of higher education. If you’re black and poor—or white and poor, for that matter—your chances of stepping into the halls of some of the nation’s most elite institutions are no greater than they were in the 1960s. Unfortunately, the academic establishment is only committed to symbolic change, and it will undermine any research that contests its reflexive political correctness and challenges its sacred cows. Sander and Taylor argue that university leaders and much of America’s elite have become so deeply committed to an ideology of racial preferences, and so distrustful of broader American public opinion on these issues, that they have widely embraced regimes that ignore the law, hide data, and put out systematic misinformation on their own racial policies.

Sander and Taylor conclude by looking at data on how to level the racial playing field in higher education. Existing studies, they argue, suggest that early childhood interventions are much more likely to produce success down the line.

Most of us think that valedictorians can write their own ticket. By reaching the top of their class they have proven their merit, so their next logical step should be to attend the nation’s very best universities. Yet in Top Student, Top School?, Alexandria Walton Radford, of American Institutes for Research, reveals that many valedictorians do not enroll in prestigious institutions. Employing an original five-state study that surveyed nine hundred public high school valedictorians, she sets out to determine when and why valedictorians end up at less selective schools, showing that social class makes all the difference. Radford traces valedictorians’ paths to college and presents damning evidence that high schools do not provide sufficient guidance on crucial factors affecting college selection, such as reputation, financial aid, and even the application process itself. Left in a bewildering environment of seemingly similar options, many students depend on their parents for assistance—and this allows social class to rear its head and have a profound impact on where students attend. Simply put, parents from less affluent backgrounds are far less informed about differences in colleges’ quality, the college application process, and financial aid options, which significantly limits their child’s chances of attending a competitive school, even when their child has already managed to become valedictorian. Top Student, Top School? pinpoints an overlooked yet critical juncture in the education process, one that stands as a barrier to class mobility. By focusing solely on valedictorians, it shows that students’ paths diverge by social class even when they are similarly well-prepared academically, and this divergence is traceable to specific failures by society, failures that we can and should address.

Watch an interview of Alexandria Walton Radford discussing her book here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F81c1D1BpY0
Four undocumented Mexican American students, two great teachers, one robot-building contest . . . and a major motion picture

In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.
And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn't pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won!
But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan.
Joshua Davis's Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.
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