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The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into…

af Daniel Golden

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1742123,600 (3.68)4
Every spring thousands of middle-class and lower-income high-school seniors learn that they have been rejected by America’s most exclusive colleges. What they may never learn is how many candidates like themselves have been passed over in favor of wealthy white students with lesser credentials—children of alumni, big donors, or celebrities. In this explosive book, the Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Daniel Golden argues that America, the so-called land of opportunity, is rapidly becoming an aristocracy in which America’s richest families receive special access to elite higher education—enabling them to give their children even more of a head start. Based on two years of investigative reporting and hundreds of interviews with students, parents, school administrators, and admissions personnel—some of whom risked their jobs to speak to the author—The Price of Admissionexposes the corrupt admissions practices that favor the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous. InThe Price of Admission, Golden names names, along with grades and test scores. He reveals how the sons of former vice president Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. He explores favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions. He reveals that colleges hold Asian American students to a higher standard than whites; comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding, squash, and crew; and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children. He also reveals that Harvard maintains a “Z-list” for well-connected but underqualified students, who are quietly admitted on the condition that they wait a year to enroll. The Price of Admissionexplodes the myth of an American meritocracy—the belief that no matter what your background, if you are smart and diligent enough, you will have access to the nation’s most elite universities. It is must reading not only for parents and students with a personal stake in college admissions, but also for those disturbed by the growing divide between ordinary and privileged Americans. From the Hardcover edition.… (mere)
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If only I'd known I'd be a future crossword champion, I probably would have gotten into the schools that rejected me (Will Shortz's proteges do extremely well in college admissions). Or perhaps if a parent was a huge celebrity, active legacy alum, or zillionaire. Or if I'd played an obscure sport (nope, crosswords aren't a sport). This book talks about all those things (not the crossword angle). It's a little disheartening, but that's reality. As an example not discussed in the book - assuming she's remotely qualified, would any college reject Emma Watson? Yet I have my doubts she'll return to graduate Brown. Many of these child stars leave to continue their careers (hello, Olsens!), which admittedly are more happening than sitting in a classroom. ( )
  ennie | Nov 13, 2011 |
The first two chapters of this book? Totally gripping. The through-the-looking-glass world of Harvard legacy admissions: people with twelve generations of alumni ancestors (not even mathematically possible at my college; not even close), the lifestyles of people far richer than I will ever be, open secret webs of influence...spicy! At the end of it I felt totally lucky that I -- without legacies, without the promise of enormous donations, without sports on my side, et cetera, just a smart kid from West Virginia -- made it into college at all.

But then, see, the next chapter was exactly the same, with "Harvard" swapped out for some other prestigious school, and "legacy" swapped out for some other admissions preference.

The author is a journalist, the book grew from newspaper articles, and it shows; he has fantastic anecdotes that carry a story along briefly, but doesn't have an overarching argument or a logical structure beyond thematic grouping of near-identical anecdotes. Each chapter would nearly stand on its own as a newspaper or magazine article, but they don't stand *together*.

Furthermore (see _Game of Shadows_), this book suffers from another pet peeve -- the assumption that its audience is equally as outraged about the topic as the author. He has a few anecdotes of kids who have lost out in the admissions game, but no systematic or thoughtful argument as to why, exactly, we should hate preferences in college admission so much. No argument about the validity of the aims colleges seek through admissions preferences or, if those are valid aims, how else we can achieve them. I feel pretty dirty thinking about a lot of those things -- they certainly puncture the myth of meritocracy in uncomfortable ways -- but I can see a way more nuanced picture than Golden seems to, and the fact that he doesn't engage with those nuances robs him of credibility.

I ended up skipping most of the middle chapters, to see if the end -- his examples of colleges doing well without legacy privilege -- have anything helpful or insightful to say. Alas, not really. His big examples are Caltech and Berea, and if you know anything about these schools at all, you know that they are highly unusual. They're highly unusual in very different ways, but they both are tiny schools with narrowly defined missions and unusual, self-selecting applicant pools, and as such there's no reason to think their solutions scale to the world at large. (Indeed, perhaps they can only compete as successfully as they do for applicants and donors in a world where most people are playing a very different game!)

It was fun reading about Caltech and all (I attended a similar school and felt cultural affinities with his Caltech interviewees), but ultimately this man didn't have an argument, just a laundry list of outrage. I hate books without arguments, I hate laundry lists as structures, and I hate outrage. Two stars. ( )
  Andromeda_Yelton | Aug 3, 2009 |
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Every spring thousands of middle-class and lower-income high-school seniors learn that they have been rejected by America’s most exclusive colleges. What they may never learn is how many candidates like themselves have been passed over in favor of wealthy white students with lesser credentials—children of alumni, big donors, or celebrities. In this explosive book, the Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Daniel Golden argues that America, the so-called land of opportunity, is rapidly becoming an aristocracy in which America’s richest families receive special access to elite higher education—enabling them to give their children even more of a head start. Based on two years of investigative reporting and hundreds of interviews with students, parents, school administrators, and admissions personnel—some of whom risked their jobs to speak to the author—The Price of Admissionexposes the corrupt admissions practices that favor the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous. InThe Price of Admission, Golden names names, along with grades and test scores. He reveals how the sons of former vice president Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. He explores favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions. He reveals that colleges hold Asian American students to a higher standard than whites; comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding, squash, and crew; and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children. He also reveals that Harvard maintains a “Z-list” for well-connected but underqualified students, who are quietly admitted on the condition that they wait a year to enroll. The Price of Admissionexplodes the myth of an American meritocracy—the belief that no matter what your background, if you are smart and diligent enough, you will have access to the nation’s most elite universities. It is must reading not only for parents and students with a personal stake in college admissions, but also for those disturbed by the growing divide between ordinary and privileged Americans. From the Hardcover edition.

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