Top Student, Top School?: How Social Class Shapes Where Valedictorians Go to College

University of Chicago Press
2
Free sample

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
Read more
Collapse

About the author

Alexandria Walton Radford is director of the Center for Postsecondary Transformation Research and Policy at American Institutes for Research. She is coauthor of No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life.
Read more
Collapse
3.0
2 total
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
Read more
Collapse
Published on
Jun 7, 2013
Read more
Collapse
Pages
272
Read more
Collapse
ISBN
9780226041148
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Language
English
Read more
Collapse
Genres
Education / General
Education / Higher
Education / Secondary
Social Science / Sociology / General
Read more
Collapse
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Collapse
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Collapse

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
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.

Read the news about America’s colleges and universities—rising student debt, affirmative action debates, and conflicts between faculty and administrators—and it’s clear that higher education in this country is a total mess. But as David F. Labaree reminds us in this book, it’s always been that way. And that’s exactly why it has become the most successful and sought-after source of learning in the world. Detailing American higher education’s unusual struggle for survival in a free market that never guaranteed its place in society—a fact that seemed to doom it in its early days in the nineteenth century—he tells a lively story of the entrepreneurial spirit that drove American higher education to become the best.

And the best it is: today America’s universities and colleges produce the most scholarship, earn the most Nobel prizes, hold the largest endowments, and attract the most esteemed students and scholars from around the world. But this was not an inevitability. Weakly funded by the state, American schools in their early years had to rely on student tuition and alumni donations in order to survive. This gave them tremendous autonomy to seek out sources of financial support and pursue unconventional opportunities to ensure their success. As Labaree shows, by striving as much as possible to meet social needs and fulfill individual ambitions, they developed a broad base of political and financial support that, grounded by large undergraduate programs, allowed for the most cutting-edge research and advanced graduate study ever conducted. As a result, American higher education eventually managed to combine a unique mix of the populist, the practical, and the elite in a single complex system.

The answers to today’s problems in higher education are not easy, but as this book shows, they shouldn’t be: no single person or institution can determine higher education’s future. It is something that faculty, administrators, and students—adapting to society’s needs—will determine together, just as they have always done.
©2019 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.