May 19, 2014

HIGHER EDUCATION: ENGINE OF INEQUALITY?

In 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, roughly 75 percent of the students at the 200 most highly rated colleges came from families in the top quartile of income, he said. Only 5 percent came from families in the bottom quartile, and while that’s up from 3 percent in 1994, it’s no huge advance or cause to rejoice.

Carnevale told me that since 1994, 80 percent of the white young men and women in this country who have headed off to college have gone to schools ranked in the top 500 by Barron’s. But 75 percent of the black and Latino young men and women who have entered college over the same period have gone to two-year or open-admissions schools outside the top 500.

“We’re sorting students by class,” he said. The most prestigious colleges are crowded with the richest kids.

Perhaps we need to move past the antiquated notion that colleges should choose their own students. In the interest of equality, college admissions should probably be handled by outside groups who will make sure that things are fair. Indeed, the very notion of “elite” schools is anti-equality.