Elite Colleges Failing to Attract Top Low-Income Students

Earlierthis month, The New York Times published an insightful yet troubling article noting that despite stellar test scores and grades, most low-income students don’t even apply to the country’s most elite colleges.

I sent a letter to the editor about the article, expressing concerns (within the periodical’s 150-word limit) about the trend. The letter wasn’t published, but I wanted to share it with you. It read as follows:

The message from Leonhardt’s insightful piece (“Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor”, March 17) is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Two decades after Jonathan Kozol portrayed “Savage Inequalities” in our nation’s public schools, rampant disparities still elevate the rich and suppress the poor.

Low-income students are shortchanged: despite strong academic records, they don’t receive sound college guidance, role models and financial literacy skills necessary to advance.

At Breakthrough New York, we provide six years of academic preparation, guidance and mentoring to high-potential, low-income students starting in middle school. The result? 100% graduate high school in four years; and, 94% attend selective four-year colleges.

The opportunity to succeed requires commitment from institutions, community leaders and corporate America. As Kozol said, “To ask an individual to break down doors that we have chained and bolted in advance of his arrival is unfair.”

The article was based on an analysis by education researchers Caroline M. Hoxby of Stanford and Christopher Avery of Harvard.

If you care about education – and helping students to succeed - I strongly you read the article, and the analysis.

The New York Times

Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor


The National Bureau of Economic Research

The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students