Posted on April 29th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
Should universities put a thumb on the scale for poor students? Yes, they should, say some higher education critics.
It's no surprise that kids from the lower socioeconomic rungs don't populate elite colleges in great numbers. But that's particularly true for poorer white kids, who don't benefit from affirmative action, traditionally designed to promote racial equality. Couple that with the trend among institutions to raise academic profiles (and chase U.S. News rankings) by offering merit aid to students with high SAT scores and better grades, who most often come from affluent families, and you get a system that's squeezing out the white middle class and below. Even public universities are witnessing a growing affluence among their undergraduates.
So should we give an admissions boost to poorer kids who get decent grades and SAT scores? Should we give a break to the kid who has to work 20 hours a week and still can't afford a Kaplan prep course? Should we consider the disadvantages these students have to overcome?
Sure we should, but the question is whether or not schools can afford to enroll them. At some colleges, the answer is yes. Large endowments spin off lots of money for scholarships, and a few schools are able to discount tuition accordingly. But we're talking about a handful of institutions. Most can't afford to enroll as many underprivileged kids as they'd perhaps like to.
So what's a lower-class, talented kid to do? Pick a college you can afford (or that can afford you) and do well. Sounds simple, but sometimes simple works.