Affirmative action is one of the central issues of American politics today, and admission to colleges and universities has been at the center of the debate. While this issue has been discussed for years, there is very little real data on the impact of affirmative action programs on admissions to institutions of higher learning. Susan Welch and John Gruhl in this groundbreaking study look at the impact on admissions of policies developed in the wake of the United States Supreme Court's landmark 1978 Bakke decision. In Bakke, the Court legitimized the use of race as one of several factors that could be considered in admissions decisions, while forbidding the use of quotas. Opponents of affirmative action claim that because of the Bakke decision thousands of less-qualified minorities have been granted admission in preference to more qualified white students; proponents claim that without the affirmative action policies articulated in Bakke, minorities would not have made the gains they have made in higher education.
Based on a survey of admissions officers for law and medical schools and national enrollment data, the authors give us the first analysis of the real impact of the Bakke decision and affirmative action programs on enrollments in medical and law schools. Admission to medical schools and law schools is much sought after and is highly competitive. In examining admissions patterns to these schools the authors are able to identify the effects of affirmative action programs and the Bakke decision in what may be the most challenging case.
This book will appeal to scholars of race and gender in political science, sociology and education as well as those interested in the study of affirmative action policies. Susan Welch is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University. John Gruhl is Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Stories abound about the lengths to which middle- and upper-middle-class parents will go to ensure a spot for their child at a prestigious university. From the Suzuki method to calculus-based physics, from AP tests all the way back to early-learning Kumon courses, students are increasingly pushed to excel with that Harvard or Yale acceptance letter held tantalizingly in front of them. And nowhere is this drive more apparent than in our elite secondary schools. In Class Warfare, Lois Weis, Kristin Cipollone, and Heather Jenkins go inside the ivy-yearning halls of three such schools to offer a day-to-day, week-by-week look at this remarkable drive toward college admissions and one of its most salient purposes: to determine class.
Drawing on deep and sustained contact with students, parents, teachers, and administrators at three iconic secondary schools in the United States, the authors unveil a formidable process of class positioning at the heart of the college admissions process. They detail the ways students and parents exploit every opportunity and employ every bit of cultural, social, and economic capital they can in order to gain admission into a “Most Competitive” or “Highly Competitive Plus” university. Moreover, they show how admissions into these schools—with their attendant rankings—are used to lock in or improve class standing for the next generation. It’s a story of class warfare within a given class, the substrata of which—whether economically, racially, or socially determined—are fiercely negotiated through the college admissions process.
In a historic moment marked by deep economic uncertainty, anxieties over socioeconomic standing are at their highest. Class, as this book shows, must be won, and the collateral damage of this aggressive pursuit may just be education itself, flattened into a mere victory banner.
Sternberg's book convincingly indicts the SAT and ACT exams. A single test lasting a few hours, he writes, "ends up having a weight equal" to the product of "years of effort and dedication" in high school.
Even as lawsuits challenging its admissions policies made their way through the courts, the University of Michigan carried the torch for affirmative action in higher education.
In June 2003, the Supreme Court vindicated UM's position on affirmative action when it ruled that race may be used as a factor for universities in their admissions programs, thus confirming what the UM had argued all along: diversity in the classroom translates to a beneficial and wide-ranging social value. With the green light given to the law school's admissions policies, Defending Diversity validates the positive benefits gained by students in a diverse educational setting.
Written by prominent University of Michigan faculty, Defending Diversity is a timely response to the court's ruling. Providing factual background, historical setting, and the psychosocial implications of affirmative action, the book illuminates the many benefits of a diverse higher educational setting -- including preparing students to be full participants in a pluralistic democracy -- and demonstrates why affirmative action is necessary to achieve that diversity.
Defending Diversity is a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion on affirmative action in higher education. Perhaps more important, it is a valuable record of the history, events, arguments, and issues surrounding the original lawsuits and the Supreme Court's subsequent ruling, and helps reclaim the debate from those forces opposed to affirmative action.
Patricia Gurin is Professor Emerita, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan. Jeffrey S. Lehman, former Dean of the University of Michigan Law School, is President of Cornell University. Earl Lewis is Dean of Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan.
In Divergent Paths to College, Megan M. Holland examines how high schools structure different pathways that lead students to very different college destinations based on race and class. She finds that racial and class inequalities are reproduced through unequal access to key sources of information, even among students in the same school and even in schools with well-established college-going cultures. As the college application process becomes increasingly complex and high-stakes, social capital, or relationships with people who can provide information as well as support and guidance, becomes much more critical. Although much has been written about the college-bound experience, we know less about the role that social capital plays, and specifically how high schools can serve as organizational brokers of social ties. The relationships that high schools cultivate between students and higher education institutions by inviting college admissions officers into their schools to market to students, is a particularly critical, yet unexplored source of college information.
The Early Admissions Game
Christopher. Avery Harvard University Press, 2004 Library of Congress LB2351.2.A84 2004 | Dewey Decimal 378.1610973
Each year, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors compete in a game they'll play only once, whose rules they do not fully understand, yet whose consequences are enormous. The game is college admissions, and applying early to an elite school is one way to win. But the early admissions process is enigmatic and flawed. It can easily lead students toward hasty or misinformed decisions.
This book--based on the careful examination of more than 500,000 college applications to fourteen elite colleges, and hundreds of interviews with students, counselors, and admissions officers--provides an extraordinarily thorough analysis of early admissions. In clear language it details the advantages and pitfalls of applying early as it provides a map for students and parents to navigate the process. Unlike college admissions guides, The Early Admissions Game reveals the realities of early applications, how they work and what effects they have. The authors frankly assess early applications. Applying early is not for everyone, but it will improve--sometimes double, even triple--the chances of being admitted to a prestigious college.
An early decision program can greatly enhance a college's reputation by skewing statistics, such as selectivity, average SAT scores, or percentage of admitted applicants who matriculate. But these gains come at the expense of distorting applicants' decisions and providing disparate treatment of students who apply early and regular admissions. The system, in short, is unfair, and the authors make recommendations for improvement.
The Early Admissions Game is sure to be the definitive work on the subject. It is must reading for admissions officers, guidance counselors, and high school seniors and their parents.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: Joining the Game
1. The History of Early Admissions 2. The State of the Game 3. Martian Blackjack: What Do Applicants Understand about Early Admissions? 4. The Innocents Abroad: The Admissions Voyage 5. The Truth about Early Applications 6. The Game Revealed: Strategies of Colleges, Counselors, and Applicants 7. Advice to Applicants
Conclusion: The Essence of the Game and Some Possible Reforms
Appendix A: Median SAT-1 Scores and Early Application Programs at Various Colleges Appendix B: Data Sources Appendix C: Interview Formats Acknowledgments Tables and Figures Index
Reviews of this book: Applying to an elite college through an early-admissions program can improve students' chances of getting in by as much as 50 percent over their odds during the regular admissions cycle, a difference that is the equivalent of scoring 100 points higher on the SAT...Based on an analysis of admission data at top colleges, as well as interviews with over 400 college freshmen [The Early Admissions Game] challenges the official line of college admissions deans, who have long held that applying early does not give prospective students an advantage over regular applicants. But the research confirms what many high-school counselors already suspected, and it is likely to fuel debate over whether early-admissions programs favor wealthy and well-connected students and should be eliminated or reformed. --Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education
Reviews of this book: [This] important contribution to the college-admissions process should reduce the general anxiety that pervades today's transition to college and, in particular, help level the playing field for students who lack access to adequate college counseling. The book may also prompt needed reform of contemporary admissions practices...The authors' goal...deserves acclaim for helping inner-city and rural students and those in other understaffed districts to pursue admission on a much more even footing...There is a wealth of information in this well-organized, clearly-written book which will enable students to make better college choices. --William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard Magazine
Reviews of this book: Readers seeking solid information about elite colleges will find The Early Admissions Game refreshingly frank. Other readers concerned about restoring some equity to the process will also appreciate the book's generosity of spirit and suggestions for reform. The authors present a devastating portrait of elite college admissions--and early admissions in particular--as an elaborate and complicated "game"...[where the winners] tend to be privileged students who have access to highly skilled counselors with information pipelines to elite college admissions offices. --Peter Sacks, The Nation
Researching and applying to colleges is a demanding, confusing, and stressful time for both students and parents. This book provides context and guidance to admissions professionals, to college counselors, and to families as they confront today's highly competitive, and often controversial, college admissions scene. It offers an insightful and authoritative explanation of the strategic choices that await those seeking to enroll at the nation's leading colleges and universities. It can help a student decide whether, when and why to apply early. Most important, it can give applicants the confidence to focus less on the "game" and more on the truly critical factors in choosing a college: the level of intellectual challenge and vitality in the curriculum, the strength and accessibility of the faculty, and the student's individual sense of fit with a particular campus environment and culture. --Nancy Vickers, President, Bryn Mawr College
The Early Admissions Game explains clearly and comprehensively the many forces that have made early applications a prominent - and much misunderstood - feature in the high-pressure arena of college admissions. The authors clear away the hype and speculation, then offer refreshingly sane, sensible guidance that will greatly help students make intelligent decisions about their college applications. --William D. Wharton, Headmaster, Commonwealth School, Boston
Avery, Fairbanks, and Zeckhauser offer clear and compelling evidence that the college admissions process needs repair. Their findings have already inspired steps toward reform. --Richard Levin, President, Yale University
This is an exceptionally interesting and intelligent book-one with real 'news' to report. The authors present their important findings with great clarity. I expect that this volume will have a significant and favorable impact on policy discussion of early admission programs at elite colleges. --Michael McPherson, President, Macalester College
Anyone involved in the college admissions process -- students and parents, counselors and admissions officers, top officials at high schools and at colleges -- should read this important book. It will help them achieve their objectives. The authors also present a number of suggestions for reforms in the admissions system that are worthy of debate across American higher education. --Lawrence H. Summers, President, Harvard University
What does “fairness” mean internationally in terms of access to higher education? Increased competition for places in elite universities has prompted a worldwide discussion regarding the fairness of student admission policies. Despite budget cuts from governments—and increasing costs for students—competition is fierce at the most prestigious institutions. Universities, already under stress, face a challenge in balancing institutional research goals, meeting individual aspirations for upward social mobility, and promoting the democratic ideal of equal opportunity.
Fair Access to Higher Education addresses this challenge from a broad, transnational perspective. The chapters in this volume contribute to our thinking and reflection on policy developments and also offer new empirical findings about patterns of advantage and disadvantage in higher education access. Bringing together insights drawn from a variety of fields, including philosophy, linguistics, social psychology, sociology, and public policy, the book sheds light on how “fairness” in university admissions has been articulated worldwide.
How does graduate admissions work? Who does the system work for, and who falls through its cracks? More people than ever seek graduate degrees, but little has been written about who gets in and why. Drawing on firsthand observations of admission committees and interviews with faculty in 10 top-ranked doctoral programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, education professor Julie Posselt pulls back the curtain on a process usually conducted in secret.
“Politicians, judges, journalists, parents and prospective students subject the admissions policies of undergraduate colleges and professional schools to considerable scrutiny, with much public debate over appropriate criteria. But the question of who gets into Ph.D. programs has by comparison escaped much discussion. That may change with the publication of Inside Graduate Admissions…While the departments reviewed in the book remain secret, the general process used by elite departments would now appear to be more open as a result of Posselt’s book.”
—Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
“Revealing…Provide[s] clear, consistent insights into what admissions committees look for.”
—Beryl Lieff Benderly, Science
“An excellent book. Takagi takes a very complex and sensitive subject—racial politics—and shows, through a careful analysis . . . that changes in the discourse about Asian American admissions have facilitated a 'retreat from race' in the area of affirmative action. . . . This book will appeal to an audience significantly wider than a typical academic one.”— David Karen, Bryn Mawr College
Charges by Asian Americans that the top universities in the United States used quotas to limit the enrollment of Asian-American students developed into one of the most controversial public controversies in higher education since the Bakke case. In Retreat from Race, Dana Takagi follows the debates over Asian-American admissions at Berkeley, UCLA, Brown, Stanford, Harvard, and Princeton. She explains important developments in the politics of race: changes in ethnic coalitions, reconstruction of the debate over affirmative action, and the conservative challenge to the civil rights agenda of the 1960s. Takagi examines the history and significance of the Asian American admissions controversy on American race relations both inside and outside higher education.
Takagi's central argument is that the Asian-American admissions controversy facilitated a subtle but important shift in affirmative action policy away from racial preferences toward class preferences. She calls this development a retreat from race. Takagi suggests that the retreat signals not only an actual policy shift but also the increasing reluctance on the part of intellectuals, politicans, and policy analysts to identify and address social problems as explicitly racial problems.
Moving beyond the university setting, Takagi explores the political significance of the retreat from race by linking Asian-American admissions to other controversies in higher education and in American politics, including the debates over political correctness and multiculturalism. In her assessment, the retreat from race is likely to fail at its promise of easing racial tension and promoting racial equality.
The Rhetoric of Remediation
Jane Stanley University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010 Library of Congress LD741.S83 2010 | Dewey Decimal 378.16109794
American universities have long professed dismay at the writing proficiency levels of entrants, and the volume of this complaint has been directly correlated to social, political, or economic currents. Many universities, in their rhetoric, have defined high need for remediation as a crisis point in order to garner state funding or to manage admissions.
In The Rhetoric of Remediation, Jane Stanley examines the statements and actions made regarding remediation at the University of California, Berkeley (Cal). Since its inception in 1868, university rhetoric has served to negotiate the tensions between an ethic of access and the assertion of elite status. Great care has been taken to promote the politics of public accessibility, yet in its competition for standing among other institutions, Cal has been publicly critical of the “underpreparedness” of many entrants. Early on, Cal developed programs to teach “Subject A” (Composition) to the vast number of students who lacked basic writing skills.
Stanley documents the evolution of the university's “rhetoric of remediation” at key moments in its history, such as: the early years of “open gate” admissions; the economic panic of the late 1800s and its effect on enrollment; Depression-era battles over funding and the creation of a rival system of regional state colleges; the GI Bill and ensuing post-WWII glut in enrollments; the “Red Scare” and its attacks on faculty, administrators, and students; the Civil Rights Movement and the resultant changes to campus politics; sexist admission policies and a de facto male-quota system; accusations of racism in the instruction of Asian Americans during the 1970s; the effects of an increasing number of students, beginning in the 1980s, for whom English was a second language; and the recent development of the College Writing Program which combined freshmen composition with Subject A instruction, in an effort to remove the concept of remediation altogether.
Setting her discussion within the framework of American higher education, Stanley finds that the rhetorical phenomenon of “embrace-and-disgrace” is not unique to Cal, and her study encourages compositionists to evaluate their own institutional practices and rhetoric of remediation for the benefit of both students and educators.
Who Gets In?
Rebecca Zwick Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress LB2351.2.Z95 2017 | Dewey Decimal 378.1610973
On the disputed topic of U.S. college admissions, everyone agrees that this high-stakes competition is unfair. But few agree on what a fair process would be. Stressing transparency in evaluating applicants, Rebecca Zwick assesses the goals and criteria of different admissions policies and shows how they can fail to produce the desired results.
Writing, for most of us, is bound up with anxiety. It’s even worse when it feels like your whole future—or at least where you’ll spend the next four years in college—is on the line. It’s easy to understand why so many high school seniors put off working on their applications until the last minute or end up with a generic and clichéd essay.
The good news? You already have the “secret sauce” for crafting a compelling personal essay: your own experiences and your unique voice.
The best essays rarely catalog how students have succeeded or achieved. Good writing shows the reader how you’ve struggled and describes mistakes you’ve made. Excellent essays express what you’re fired up about, illustrate how you think, and illuminate the ways you’ve grown.
More than twenty million students apply to college every year; many of them look similar in terms of test scores, grades, courses taken, extracurricular activities. Admissions officers wade through piles of files. As an applicant, you need to think about what will interest an exhausted reader. What can you write that will make her argue to admit you instead of the thousands of other applicants?
A good essay will be conversational and rich in vivid details, and it could only be written by one person—you. This book will help you figure out how to find and present the best in yourself. You’ll acquire some useful tools for writing well—and may even have fun—in the process.