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Robert Reich Demolishes Myth that College Is Gateway to the Middle Class

March 23, 2015 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

The suffering kids experience over college admissions is intense and largely unnecessary.


I know a high school senior who’s so worried about whether she’ll be accepted at the college of her choice she can’t sleep.

The parent of another senior tells me he stands at the mailbox for an hour every day waiting for a hoped-for acceptance letter to arrive.

Parents are also uptight. I’ve heard of some who have stopped socializing with other parents of children competing for admission to the same university.

Competition for places in top-brand colleges is absurdly intense. With inequality at record levels and almost all the economic gains going to the top, there’s more pressure than ever to get the golden ring.

A degree from a prestigious university can open doors to elite business schools and law schools – and to jobs paying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, a year.

So parents who can afford it are paying grotesque sums to give their kids an edge.

They “enhance” their kids' resumes with such things as bassoon lessons, trips to wildlife preserves in Botswana, internships at the Atlantic Monthly. They hire test-prep coaches. They arrange for consultants to help their children write compelling essays on college applications.

They make generous contributions to the elite colleges they once attended, to which their kids are applying  – colleges that give extra points to “legacies” and even more to those from wealthy families that donate tons of money.

You might call this affirmative action for the rich.

The same intensifying competition is affecting mid-range colleges and universities that are doing everything they can to burnish their own brands – competing with other mid-range institutions to enlarge their applicant pools, attract good students, and inch upward on the U.S. News college rankings.

Every college president wants to increase the ratio of applications to admissions, thereby becoming more elite.

Excuse me, but this is nuts.

The biggest absurdity is that a four-year college degree has become the only gateway into the American middle class.

But not every young person is suited to four years of college. They may be bright and ambitious but they won’t get much out of it. They’d rather …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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