Wealth is the New Disadvantage

Thanks to the Eduwonkette for the link to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, where it says, right there in black and white:

We all understand that being a rich white kid puts one at a disadvantage in the college-admissions process. But it is worth pausing to savor the irony of an institution that charges as much as $45,000 a year asking its applicants to demonstrate their proletarian credentials.

The editorial writer is commenting on a book about college application strategies by Michelle Hernandez, who advises applicants with the misfortune of having been raised by highly educated and professional parents to be “vague” about their parents’ jobs in their application materials, since the “best case scenario” for admissions is a factory-worker father and a mother on disability and the “worse case” is to have professional parents with graduate degrees .


Who knew!

All of those parents pressing their kids into AP classes, eco-trips to El Salvador and SAT prep courses in their frenzy to get their kids into the high status colleges could, instead, have just resigned from their law firms and Fortune 500 companies to work at Walmart!

Don’t I feel foolish.

When I think of how close I came to embarrassing myself by arguing with the professional couple sitting across from me at a holiday event who were complaining about how their daughter is “too blonde” to get any college scholarships, I shudder. Clearly, I should, instead, have recommended Hernandez’s book, since promoting one’s business by selling the idea that wealth is the new disadvantage seems a very natural fit for this couple.

3 thoughts on “Wealth is the New Disadvantage

  1. Joe January 3, 2008 / 5:51 pm

    Jane, while I completely agree with you, I think there is something real to this. My future wife and I both grew up pretty poor. Working/poverty class, sporadic health coverage, food stamps…you know, a real fun time. We both got almost full rides to a really excellent liberal arts college. Now that we both have graduate degrees, I worry deeply about affording to pay for college in the future if/when we have kids. There’s a larger issue here: the ever growing cost of college in general, juxtaposed with the slow erosion of wages and the middle class. After all, isn’t everyone just trying to keep up with their reference group? This is how it manifests.

  2. janevangalen January 4, 2008 / 7:12 am

    Hi, Joe,

    Yes, there certainly is a bigger issue of rising college costs and stagnating wages here. We really have to keep talking about that.

    And I don’t want that conversation to be diverted to “but those poor kids have it made while the middle class suffers” arguments, as Hernandez would have us believe.

    I want the “pie” to get bigger, to stop believing that our only option is to carve out a bigger slice for ourselves.

    How do we get that conversation moving forward?


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