Higher education is meant to be a stepping stone to a better life – a fast track to realizing the American dream. But elite college admission policies hamper the ability of poor students to achieve this kind of economic mobility, according to an influential economist.
In a speech at an event in New York focusing on financial literacy and economic education, William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, denounced the tendency of elite colleges to grant preferences admission to the children of former students as “essentially a” gift admit policy. Often offering admission to a student whose family already has a close connection to the university can help nurture a bond with the school through donations and the like.
“Many elite schools recognize that they take an applicant’s relationship with alumni into account when considering whether or not to offer admission, but they are shy about the importance of the role this plays. .“
Many elite schools recognize that they take an applicant’s relationship with alumni into account when considering offering admission, but they are shy about the importance of the role they play and from their students who have a link with the alumni.
Still, there is data indicating that relatives of former students benefit during the college application process. A recent survey by Harvard Crimson, the school’s student newspaper, found that about 30% of the class of 2021 had some kind of family connection to the school.
“This is patently unfair,” Dudley said in prepared remarks, referring to legacy admissions at large, “and removing such policies would help increase economic mobility,” he continued. “I really don’t see how our best universities can continue to justify this practice. “
Legacy admissions are just one example of how the best colleges in our country are replicating the privilege. At 346 colleges across the country, the share of students receiving a Pell Scholarship, or the money the government provides low-income students to pay for their education, is less than 20%, according to a report released earlier this year by Georgetown University’s Center. for education and the workforce. Of these schools, more than half are among the country’s 500 most selective colleges. In other words, a small portion of the students at top colleges receive Pell scholarships.
Although elite private colleges often offer generous financial aid to the low-income students they admit, these students make up a small portion of the students in their schools. But private colleges aren’t the only schools to become strongholds of the elite. In the face of budget pressure, top public schools are looking for ways to attract high net worth students – including offering them merit scholarships – to help cope with the shortfall.
Fortunately, there are still many colleges that are doing a decent job of helping large numbers of low-income students move up the income ladder, as Dudley noted in his remarks. These include the New York City University and Cal State University systems. “Learning exactly how they do it and how it can be replicated seems to me to be a prime issue for further study,” Dudley said.