College Admission Trends

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It's college admissions season. Rejection season, too. The competition for entry into the country's top colleges and universities has never been tougher.

Who's getting in? Well, a lot of very good students. And a lot of very affluent students.

In a time of sharp economic inequality in America, critics say America's top colleges have become part of the problem — the crowning advantage for kids born to advantage. Some are even saying it's time to sideline racial diversity as a top goal, and push for class diversity instead.

This hour On Point: when college becomes the country club.

Quotes from the Show:

"People are reporting that their children applied at 12 or 15 or 20 schools and get in to only one or two of them, if at all. We're hearing it from scores and scores of top schools." Sam Dillon

"You have this sort of ocean of very qualified applicants sloshing around the country, all trying to get into the same places." Sam Dillon

"But the fact that there's a bunch of rich kids competing with each other to go to the very most prestigious schools is not a problem for the rest of us. They are not the victims of this system of higher education in America. The victims of the system are the kids who never within a stone's throw of places like Harvard or Yale. And those are the kids that right from day one victims in fact of poverty." Walter Benn Michaels

"We've also been troubled I think or afflicted by what I refer to as an admissions arms race and it's translated into an overemphasis, if you will, on test scores, on standardized exams which further disadvantage not only poor kids but poor kids of color. ...You can't easily separate in this society race and class. ...The solution from my view is not to simply suggest that no further attention be given to the necessity and importance of diversity in the universities that are preparing the next generation of leaders." Walter Allen

"The simple fact is that, in terms of race, America is not a color-blind society. I don't think we can address the issues of race and be blind to it. But I also don't think that only focusing on race as professor Allen suggested will get us to address the economic inequality issues that we also need to be addressing and that we're focused on." Anthony Marx


Sam Dillon, a National Education Correspondent for The New York Times

Walter Benn Michaels, Professor of English at University of Illinois at Chicago and author of "The Trouble with Diversity: How we Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality"

Anthony Marx, President of Amherst College

Walter Allen, Professor of Education at UCLA

This program aired on April 4, 2007.


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