Rich student, poor student

“The higher education system is . . . a passive agent in the systematic reproduction of white racial privilege across generations,” concludes a new report. Latino and black students — even those with high grades — are more likely than whites to go to community colleges, where their odds of graduation are lower.

Linking financial aid to graduation rates will penalize colleges that enroll low-income students, two new research papers warn.

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  1. From this article we learn that Hispanics are not white (except for possibly in Florida), and that Asians are.

  2. I don’t think that GPA is a particularly good way to compare students, both because of the huge variations among schools and because of the vagaries of grade inflation. A student with a 3.5 unweighted GPA and no AP passes, from an inner-city HS, is not really like a student with the same GPA, plus at least 3 AP passes (likely to be 4-5s) from a suburban school of known excellence. I’m betting that SAT/ACT scores reflect that difference. A then-freshman at Georgetown U wrote a column in the WaPo last spring, which said that he had a far weaker academic background than his classmates, even though he had been to one of DC’s better charters. Georgetown apparently has a special program for local kids like him.

  3. So…at a time in history in which higher education is openly giving preferences to minorities and is obsessed with promoting equality of outcome over merit, we are told that the system is passively reproducing white privilege.

    What more can be done?

    Besides school vouchers and charters of course. I’m sure the authors of this study would be strongly opposed to school choice and charter schools.

  4. I took the time to read the executive summary of the report. I was not impressed.

    The analysis in the report is severely lacking. The authors make no attempt to probe whether it’s racial privilege or socio-economic privilege being reinforced by the higher education system. Facts and figures are presented purely in racial terms, never checking to see whether similar trends affect poor, uneducated whites.

    In one egregious example, the authors compare apples and oranges to avoid looking at uneducated whites:

    Fifty-eight percent of the children of white college graduates earn a BA or higher, compared to just 20 percent of the children of African American/Hispanic college dropouts.

    Moreover, they completely fail to address the root causes behind the issue. Some avenues that they could have considered, but didn’t:

    1. The complexity of getting into a selective institution makes doing so difficult for students of any race with poorly-educated parents.
    2. Parents (and students) without knowledge of the higher education world might be scared away from selective institutions based on the sticker price, not realizing that few actually pay it.
    3. Poorer parents might not be able to finance the full cost of sending their child to a selective school. Often times, poorer students choose commuter colleges to limit living expenses.

    Along these lines, the report totally ignores the economic ravages of student loan debt. They cite the earning differential between college graduates and drop outs. Classic academic thinking: look at the benefits while ignoring the cost and risk.

    Earnings don’t make people rich. Wealth does. Taking on mountains of debt early in life is a great way to ensure that one cannot transform earnings into wealth. Defaulting on that debt is a great way to shatter one’s economic future. In this economy, with huge unemployment rates for college graduates, borrowing to go to a selective college is quite possibly the dumbest thing a poor student can do.

    In the end, my only conclusion is that the authors have managed to take piles of data and condense it to a stream mindless drivel using the tenacious mendacity that only academics on a jeremiad about white privilege can muster. Quite an achievement indeed, but completely meaningless.

  5. The basic driver of differences in economic status and academic achievements between ethnic groups are the differences in average IQ. This true all over the world even when the high IQ groups are tiny such as the Chinese in Jamaica or Burma.

  6. Quincy – The main payoff from paying big bucks to attend a highly selective university is that it might enable one to enter the elite. But any intelligent person who gets an engineering degree say from a legitimate institution without incurring massive debt will be able to make a decent living.

    • The thing is, the elite universities often have big endowments and generous financial aid, so you’re NOT paying big bucks. If you read a lot of the ‘undergrad student debt is killing me’ articles, you see that the kids went to middling to poor private colleges that charged high tuition.

      Part of the problem seems to be that kids less plugged into the college game (because of parents unfamiliar with college) seem to think that the price tag indicates the value of the degree in the real world….. “They charge 40K a year and give no financial aid! They MUST be a good school!”

      I have friends around my age who went to 4th or 5th tier schools, and who graduated with more debt than I did at a first tier school. (Even though our families had similar incomes when we were in college, and our parents provided the same amount of help.)

      Honestly, if you’re choosing between 40K a year for a not-so-great private school versus 5K a year to start out at the CC and transfer to a big state school, the CC route is a better investment!@

      • Exactly. My real point, though, is that the report doesn’t even attempt to address ideas such as this. The authors are so intent on abusing various data to scream racism that they couldn’t give a hoot about reality.

  7. Also ignored in the “white privilege” mantra is the fact that the URMs attending the most competitive schools tend to come from the same affluent public and private schools as do the white/Asian kids, or they are foreign students. Not many black and Hispanic kids from the inner city schools end up at the most competitive colleges and neither do many white kids from rural Appalachia – and most shouldn’t go there. Their preparation is all too likely to set them up for failure at college at that level.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    It’s dialect. Trust me, I’ll get there.
    During the Thirties and Forties, movies with characters who were supposed to be at least upper-middle class featured the characters speaking what is known as “received theater pronunciation”. It’s vaguely upper-class Brit without torquing some of the vowels so much. It’s similar to the obsolete mid-Atlantic dialect, last spoken in public by W.F. Buckley, Jr. which made his opponents think he was putting on airs with his Britishisms.
    The purpose of the pronunciation in the movies was to imply class, I mean really class. Someplace just out of sight between NYC, Boston, Philly, was a place where everybody had class, money, great houses, butlers, maids, etc. It would be like the Hamptons except you couldn’t quite pin it down geographically.
    Point was escapism for the audience.
    For those who are not quite sure about the “elite”, the movers and shakers on The Street or gliding seamlessly from one NGO to another to a federal agency, the entry must be an elite school. Somewhere just the other side of the Ivies is…the Hamptons. Wealth. Hobnobbing with the great and near-great.
    Great, sour joke is…you have to be in that elite first. Ivying it doesn’t do you much good if you’re not already there. It’s connections and family money, not the parchment.
    Still, for those on the outside looking in, the temptation is substantial.
    My kids graduated from Enormous State University about 2000. I know them and their friends. They’re all doing well, mostly due to a savage work ethic. Some of the women, trained as teachers, do some tutoring. The going rate is $60/hr. No union dues.
    And no massive efforts from pre-K on to qualify for the Ivies. They had a regular childhood.

  9. “White privilege” is an ideological construct designed as part of the intentional strategy to fragment America into groups that distrust each other. In some situations, it’s an advantage to be white. In many, it is not. Further, some whites have few connections to power and status and are unfortunately poor, ugly and stupid. They derive little advantage from their race but the system still discriminates against them.
    A sociological concept of real though limited usefulness becomes a superstition that is all-pervasive, and not believing in it is taken as proof that you are guilty of it.