Sunday, June 24, 2007

Book Review: The Price of Admission, by Daniel Golden

In a series of articles for the Wall Street Journal, Golden brought attention to controversial aspects of college admissions that act to hinder economic diversity at elite campuses. The most striking allegation is that many universities mantain active communication between the admissions and development offices. For example, the development office at Duke applied pressure to accept applicants from wealthy families even if there had been no sign of interest in donations. Golden illustrates the unsavory nature of this connection through a series of comparisons between the wealthy (undeserving) applicant who was granted admission and a poor (deserving) applicant who was denied admissions. This style of writing is a nice appeal to emotion, but it works much better in the comparatively short format of a newspaper. After reading a dozen such comparisons between various students I would have preferred some real analysis. One piece of analysis that I have recently come across is a study by the New America Foundation which found that among the 140 most selective colleges, only 3% of students come from the bottom quartile.


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