A new book entitled “The Power of Privilege: Yale and America’s Elite Colleges” has just been released. This book argues that the meritocracy that Yale and other elite colleges have been pushing as the new reality is not as available as the colleges would suggest. Here is the description of the book from its publisher, Stanford University Press.
“It is widely assumed that admission to elite U.S. universities is based solely on academic merit—the best and brightest are admitted to Harvard, Yale, and their peer institutions as determined by test scores and GPA, and not by lineage or family income. But does reality support those expectations? Or are admissions governed by a logic that rewards socioeconomic status while disguising it as personal merit?
The Power of Privilege examines the nexus between social class and admissions at America’s top colleges from the vantage point of Yale University, a key actor in the history of higher education. It is a documented history of the institutional gatekeepers, confident of the validity of socially biased measures of merit, seeking to select tomorrow’s leadership class from among their economically privileged clientele. Acceptance in prestigious colleges still remains beyond the reach of most students except those from high-income professional families. Ultimately, the author suggests reforms that would move America’s top schools toward becoming genuine academic meritocracies.”
I have not yet had a chance to read this book but it looks like an interesting read.
Inside Higher Ed reported on this book and also addressed the argument that some make that this book paints too bleak a picture of how elite colleges have changed in the recent past.
Another recent study about who attends college was issued by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. This study was reported on by boston. com.
Issues of how much a college have changed are always subject to subjective arguments. However, for students considering admission to an elite college, the issue of who may be admitted is a very real issue. For such students the more information available the better.