Elite college admission practices

Last year, two Princeton sociologists (T.J. Espenshade and A.W. Radford) published a book titled No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life. The book has drawn a number of comments in the blogosphere.

The book was mentioned in the New York Times this past Sunday as Ross Douthat wrote about “the roots of white anxiety.” Douthat summarizes the book’s findings:

Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

According to Douthat, these decisions have consequences: “This breeds paranoia, among elite and non-elites alike” and “Among the highly educated and liberal, meanwhile, the lack of contact with rural, working-class America generates all sorts of wild anxieties about what’s being plotted in the heartland.”

Granted, this study was restricted to eight elite universities. But many Americans have an image of liberal academia that bears little relation to average lives of shopping at Wal-Mart, living in suburbia, and going to church.

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