PLEDGE NOW
Economic Inequality Goes To College

American colleges cutting gut the middle, the poor and the push to turn that around.

The chapel at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. (Joseph  A / Flickr)

The chapel at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. (Joseph A / Flickr)

In the golden age of America’s middle class, American universities were a big part of the conveyor belt to opportunity. That’s still our vision. But stroll around many top college campuses these days and you can feel how affluence rules. Dominates. Colleges get racial and religious and geographic diversity. But spending the money to bring in low-income and middle class students can slip to a second-tier priority. And with that slips the goal of mixing economic classes, giving all a shot. This hour On Point: American colleges leaning toward the affluent, and the push to turn that around.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Catharine Hill, president of Vassar College.

Richard Kahlenberg, senior fellow at the Century Foundation. Author of “All Together Now” and “The Remedy.” (@rickkahlenberg)

Stephen Burd, senior policy analyst with New America’s Education Policy Program. (@stephenburd2)

Holden Thorp, provost and executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis. (@holdenwu)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Generation Later, Poor Are Still Rare at Elite Colleges — “A series of federal surveys of selective colleges found virtually no change from the 1990s to 2012 in enrollment of students who are less well off — less than 15 percent by some measures — even though there was a huge increase over that time in the number of such students going to college. Similar studies looking at a narrower range of top wealthy universities back those findings. With race-based affirmative action losing both judicial and public support, many have urged selective colleges to shift more focus to economic diversity.”

The Atlantic: Why Ivy League Schools Are So Bad at Economic Diversity — “During my time as a student and now professor, I have met many youth from average-income families who are driven to succeed by a desire to address the systemic economic inequalities with which their parents and neighbors struggle. For some, using their diplomas to win high-paying positions that will enable them to support their immediate families is sufficient. Others believe participating in social movements that advance economic justice is the most effective way for them to help.”

Yale Alumni Magazine: Wanted: smart students from poor families — “It remains true, though, that students with backgrounds like mine are much more common at schools like Yale than students with backgrounds like Tynan’s. Nationwide, the well-off are more likely to enjoy the amenities and expectations that encourage academic achievement. In 2010–11, 35 percent of American students at four-year state and private colleges received Pell Grants, the main type of federal aid for low- and moderate-income students.”

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 24, 2016
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Vietnamese Communist party secretary general Nguyen Phu Trong at the Central Office of the Communist Party of Vietnam in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, May 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Obama’s in Vietnam and Japan. The G7, Hiroshima and his pivot to Asia are all on the table. We look at the big picture. Plus, President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima.

May 24, 2016
Activist and author Gloria Steinem. (Carly Romeo / Courtesy Gloria Steinem)

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem explores how violence against women drives global instability in her new show, “Woman.” She’s with us.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 23, 2016
Robin Wright, right, attending the Emmy Awards in 2015 with Kevin Spacey. The pair star in "House of Cards" on Netflix. Wright recently shared that she fought to have an equal salary as Spacey. (Alex Berliner/Invision for the Television Academy/AP)

The pay gap between men and women is much greater in white-collar than blue-collar jobs. We’ll look at why, and what should be done about it.

 
May 23, 2016
A long line of travelers wait for the TSA security check point at O'Hare International airport in Chicago. Some major airports are currently seeing wait times exceeding 90 minutes at peak hours. (Teresa Crawford/AP)

The latest on the EgyptAir crash, and the latest on the TSA and security in the United States.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Gloria Steinem Explains Her ‘Bernie Boys’ Comment
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Feminist activist Gloria Steinem explains why her apparent diss of female supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders was anything but.

More »
Comment
 
‘Best Of’ 2016 Commencement Speeches
Monday, May 16, 2016

Excerpts from a few of the best commencement speeches delivered to the graduating class of 2016.

More »
Comment
 
Caller: Trump is a ‘Yankee moron,’ but I support him
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

“I’m a working man. I’ve worked 13, 14 hours every day. I got two jobs. I got three kids. I got a wife. You know, I’m not a misogynist.”

More »
Comment