Nov 4, 2009

College Admissions: Who Wins and Who Loses

In this hour-long book talk delivered during a forum sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Law, Pulitzer prize winning journalist Daniel Golden discusses his book, The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges—and Who Gets Left at the Gates. Popular among admissions junkies and others seeking to understand the mysterious workings of the admissions “backroom,” Golden’s examination of what he calls the “preferences of privilege” is a controversial exposé of what it takes to get admitted to an elite college or university. The video provides a solid summary of the book and offers the added bonus of a particularly enlightening question and answer session at the conclusion of the talk.

Neither the book nor the video represents breaking news. But for those unfamiliar with Golden’s work, the picture he paints is not particularly pretty. A meticulous researcher, Golden uses specific anecdotes and supporting data to describe practices that “perpetuate aristocracy” and serve to “choke-off upward mobility” among lower- and middle-class applicants. It’s not so much what you know as who you know and how much you’re willing to pay.

Most parents and applicants aren’t going to like the message Golden delivers. But if you’re willing to shed naïveté and cross over to the darker side of the admissions process, the video version of “The Price of Admission” might answer a few nagging questions about who gets in and why.

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