Friday, June 8, 2012

Are Ivies still the "gatekeepers" of social mobility, or will public school do?

"Elite higher education is a precious commodity with moral overtones and that humility and modesty will always be in short supply when selective institutions serve as gatekeepers to social mobility." 

~Andrew Delbanco "A Smug Education"

I read an Op-Ed last night in the New York Times about the notion that Ivy league colleges and universities promote a sense of elitism that crowds out those looking to ascend the economic ranks, thus leaving those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder in the dust. You can read the full piece by Andrew Delbanco here. I just had to write about this because it made me wonder how relevant this perception even is today.With mounting tuition rates across the nation at many public and private colleges and universities, and not much promise in the increase of income levels across the nation for most middle-class families, the reality is that most students (and quite frankly this has been the reality for a very long time) are not starting their college careers at a top-tier institution, much less an Ivy anyway. 

We are even beginning to see a trend of more affluent families considering two-year colleges for their children as an entry point to completing their bachelor degree. So with that said, is it even fair to hold Ivy institutions hostage to the title of "gatekeeper" when it's evident that plenty of individuals are finding their way in through other doors? And not only are they finding their way in, but they are making waves as they do.

I think of countless numbers of my friends who have gone to community college, state colleges, or other lesser known public institutions, and they are now entrepreneurs, film producers, award-winning photographers, doctors, teachers, and doctoral candidates at prestigious graduate schools. So I guess my question is, do we really need an "elite" education in order to obtain social mobility? 

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