Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Elite colleges struggle to recruit smart, low- income kids

Posted by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 9:26 PM
  • 13 Replies

Elite Colleges Struggle To Recruit Smart, Low-Income Kids

Top schools like Harvard, seen here in 2000, often offer scholarships and other financial incentives, but they are finding it hard to increase the socioeconomic diversity on campus.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Across the United States, college administrators are poring over student essays, recommendation letters and SAT scores as they select a freshman class for the fall.

If this is like most years, administrators at top schools such as Harvard and Stanford will try hard to find talented high school students from poor families in a push to increase the socioeconomic diversity on campus and to counter the growing concern that highly selective colleges cater mainly to students from privileged backgrounds.

Top schools often offer scholarships that not only include free tuition, but also free room and board for top students from poor families — meaning it can be less expensive for these students to attend Harvard than a state school or a community college, says Caroline Hoxby, an economist at Stanford who tracks these students.

Each year, however, colleges are confronted with a paradox: No matter how many incentives they provide, enrollment of highly talented, low-income students barely seems to budge.

After Harvard offered what was, in essence, a free college education to students whose families earned under $40,000 a year, Hoxby says, "the number of students whose families had income below that threshold changed by only about 15 students, and the class at Harvard is about 1,650 freshmen."

Hoxby says some college administers had confided to her that they had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the pool of low-income students with top academic credentials was just limited, and there wasn't much they could do to change that.

But in an analysis published with Christopher Avery in December, Hoxby has shown that this conclusion isn't true. There is in fact a vast pool of highly talented, low-income students; they just aren't ending up in top schools.

Hoxby says in an interview that she asked herself why talented students might escape the attention of college administrators, when the administrators were looking so hard for these students.

"The students whom they see are the students who apply," she says, of admissions officers. "And if a student doesn't apply to any selective college or university, it's impossible for admissions staff to see that they are out there."

Hoxby found that the majority of academically gifted low-income students come from a handful of places in the country: About 70 percent of them come from 15 large metropolitan areas. These areas often have highly regarded public high schools, such as Stuyvesant in New York City or Thomas Jefferson in the Washington, D.C., area.

Low-income high-achieving students at these schools have close to 100 percent odds of attending an Ivy League school or other highly selective college, Hoxby says.

The reasons are straightforward: These schools boast top teachers and immense resources. They have terrific guidance counselors. Highly selective colleges send scouts to these schools to recruit top talent. And perhaps most important, students in these schools are part of a peer group where many others are also headed to highly selective colleges.

Hoxby and Avery found that top students who do not live in these major metropolitan areas were significantly less likely to end up at a highly selective school. These students were far less likely to find themselves in a pipeline that ended at an Ivy League school.

"Imagine a student who is the only student who is a likely candidate for a place like Harvard or Stanford or University of Chicago — and he's not just the only student in his or her high school, but he's the only student that that high school has graduated like that in, say, three or four years," Hoxby says.

Without mentors and academically talented peers, Hoxby says, many of these students fail to apply to schools that can offer them a premium education free of charge. And because the students are widely dispersed across the 42,000 high schools in the country, college recruiters have a hard time finding them.

Hoxby is working on interventions to reach these students and to give them a clear picture of their choices. She doesn't believe all these students need to necessarily end up at a highly selective college, but she wants them to clearly understand that they have that choice.

by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 9:26 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 22, 2013 at 9:39 PM
1 mom liked this

I disagree that Harvard offers a more premium education than other schools that aren't considered ivy league. What would I know? I don't have an ivy league degree? I do know that even if I had an opportunity to attend an institution like Harvard I would be flattered but I would have surely declined. I struggled enough and the hands of my fellow classmates because my family was poor. I wouldn't have put myself into a situation where it would be obvious that I didn't fit in. My niece was accepted into an Ivy League school and she went elsewhere. The difference in tuition when all is said and done is nominal.



Bigmetalchicken
by Silver Member on Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM

They are also not considering the fact that yes, they offer scholarships, but those kids probably feel they can not afford all of the other things that they would need if they went to those schools. 

Carmel63
by Bronze Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:23 PM
5 moms liked this



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

I disagree that Harvard offers a more premium education than other schools that aren't considered ivy league. What would I know? I don't have an ivy league degree? I do know that even if I had an opportunity to attend an institution like Harvard I would be flattered but I would have surely declined. I struggled enough and the hands of my fellow classmates because my family was poor. I wouldn't have put myself into a situation where it would be obvious that I didn't fit in. My niece was accepted into an Ivy League school and she went elsewhere. The difference in tuition when all is said and done is nominal.


I have to think that many make the assumption that you do.  I live in a strange area where half my neighbors graduated from either  Ivy League schools, or Stamford.  The only way one would not have fit in is if they did not have the intelligence to be there.  In places like Harvard they are less concerned about what you wear or what you own, are are more interested in your ideas and what you have to contribute as an individual.  It is the lower tier (compared to the Ivys) private schools that are more style/class conscious.  I think anyone turning down a free or almost free Ivy League education is missing a huge opportunity based on a misconception.


futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:36 PM
1 mom liked this

Sounds like some guidance counselors are not doing their jobs.

Hoxby is working on interventions to reach these students and to give them a clear picture of their choices.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:38 PM


Quoting Carmel63:



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

I disagree that Harvard offers a more premium education than other schools that aren't considered ivy league. What would I know? I don't have an ivy league degree? I do know that even if I had an opportunity to attend an institution like Harvard I would be flattered but I would have surely declined. I struggled enough and the hands of my fellow classmates because my family was poor. I wouldn't have put myself into a situation where it would be obvious that I didn't fit in. My niece was accepted into an Ivy League school and she went elsewhere. The difference in tuition when all is said and done is nominal.


I have to think that many make the assumption that you do.  I live in a strange area where half my neighbors graduated from either  Ivy League schools, or Stamford.  The only way one would not have fit in is if they did not have the intelligence to be there.  In places like Harvard they are less concerned about what you wear or what you own, are are more interested in your ideas and what you have to contribute as an individual.  It is the lower tier (compared to the Ivys) private schools that are more style/class conscious.  I think anyone turning down a free or almost free Ivy League education is missing a huge opportunity based on a misconception.


This.

ashleyrenee24
by Ashley on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:46 PM
BUMP!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Due9
by Bronze Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:58 PM
1 mom liked this

Being around Ivy league graduates (they have attended and graduated from Harvard)...they could care less what you wear or what you drive..it's more about academics and who is the smartest, most creative person. I believe the pool of candidates is low because of the lack of nudge and support from parents and others.

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM
1 mom liked this

 I think people make too much of Ivy League educations myself.  I went to a smaller state university and I have had a very successful career.  It kind of makes me think of purses...Gucci and Coach...both quality handbags...big price difference...in the end they both carry my lipstick and my wallet.

I didn't realize Harvard offered these things....maybe they should do a better job of getting the word out.

 

lga1965
by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 9:04 PM

 

Quoting Carmel63:

 

 

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

I disagree that Harvard offers a more premium education than other schools that aren't considered ivy league. What would I know? I don't have an ivy league degree? I do know that even if I had an opportunity to attend an institution like Harvard I would be flattered but I would have surely declined. I struggled enough and the hands of my fellow classmates because my family was poor. I wouldn't have put myself into a situation where it would be obvious that I didn't fit in. My niece was accepted into an Ivy League school and she went elsewhere. The difference in tuition when all is said and done is nominal.


I have to think that many make the assumption that you do.  I live in a strange area where half my neighbors graduated from either  Ivy League schools, or Stamford.  The only way one would not have fit in is if they did not have the intelligence to be there.  In places like Harvard they are less concerned about what you wear or what you own, are are more interested in your ideas and what you have to contribute as an individual.  It is the lower tier (compared to the Ivys) private schools that are more style/class conscious.  I think anyone turning down a free or almost free Ivy League education is missing a huge opportunity based on a misconception.

 

 That's true. College is so much different than high school where not coming from a family with money and prestige and not being a member of "The In Crowd" can be depressing. Once you are in  college, it really is your mind , your goals, your major and your individual gifts that people care about. I know this from personal experience. My family was barely getting by and I wasn't a member of the "Elite kids group". I was very shy and lonely and only had friends who also didn't have money. In college, everything changed and it was wonderful.

Anyone who turns down a full scholarship from one of the best schools needs to think twice about it. It would be a mistake.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 9:06 PM


Quoting Carmel63:



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

I disagree that Harvard offers a more premium education than other schools that aren't considered ivy league. What would I know? I don't have an ivy league degree? I do know that even if I had an opportunity to attend an institution like Harvard I would be flattered but I would have surely declined. I struggled enough and the hands of my fellow classmates because my family was poor. I wouldn't have put myself into a situation where it would be obvious that I didn't fit in. My niece was accepted into an Ivy League school and she went elsewhere. The difference in tuition when all is said and done is nominal.


I have to think that many make the assumption that you do.  I live in a strange area where half my neighbors graduated from either  Ivy League schools, or Stamford.  The only way one would not have fit in is if they did not have the intelligence to be there.  In places like Harvard they are less concerned about what you wear or what you own, are are more interested in your ideas and what you have to contribute as an individual.  It is the lower tier (compared to the Ivys) private schools that are more style/class conscious.  I think anyone turning down a free or almost free Ivy League education is missing a huge opportunity based on a misconception.


While what you're saying might very well be true that doesn't mean an intelligent kid with a warped psyche wouldn't feel uncomfortable. Obviously I can't possibly know what Ivy league school is like, I've never been enrolled in one. I do know how damaged I was coming out of high school and entering into college. I enjoyed college very much and I didn't find the experience nearly as challenging or as damaging as high school.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)