The Price of Admission by Daniel Golden
How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges -- and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates

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Synopsis

Every spring thousands of middle-class and lower-income high-school seniors learn that they have been rejected by America’s most exclusive colleges. What they may never learn is how many candidates like themselves have been passed over in favor of wealthy white students with lesser credentials—children of alumni, big donors, or celebrities.

In this explosive book, the Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Daniel Golden argues that America, the so-called land of opportunity, is rapidly becoming an aristocracy in which America’s richest families receive special access to elite higher education—enabling them to give their children even more of a head start. Based on two years of investigative reporting and hundreds of interviews with students, parents, school administrators, and admissions personnel—some of whom risked their jobs to speak to the author—The Price of Admission exposes the corrupt admissions practices that favor the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous.

In The Price of Admission, Golden names names, along with grades and test scores. He reveals how the sons of former vice president Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. He explores favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions. He reveals that colleges hold Asian American students to a higher standard than whites; comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding, squash, and crew; and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children. He also reveals that Harvard maintains a “Z-list” for well-connected but underqualified students, who are quietly admitted on the condition that they wait a year to enroll.

The Price of Admission explodes the myth of an American meritocracy—the belief that no matter what your background, if you are smart and diligent enough, you will have access to the nation’s most elite universities. It is must reading not only for parents and students with a personal stake in college admissions, but also for those disturbed by the growing divide between ordinary and privileged Americans.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Daniel Golden

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Daniel Golden is Deputy Bureau Chief at the Boston bureau of The Wall Street Journal, where he has covered education since 1999. Previously, he was a reporter at the Boston Globe. The recipient of numerous journalistic honors and awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the George Polk Award, he holds a B.A. from Harvard College. He lives with his wife and son in Belmont, Massachusetts.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published January 16, 2009 by Crown. 352 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In his final chapter, the author presents the reforms he believes are necessary to eliminate the preferences of privilege and restore the opportunities for upward social mobility to academically qualified working-class and middle-class students.

Sep 05 2006 | Read Full Review of The Price of Admission: How A...

The New York Times

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The Ivies may not be out of your child’s reach if you shell out enough, a Wall Street Journal reporter shows.

Sep 17 2006 | Read Full Review of The Price of Admission: How A...

California Literary Review

When I was a college student, I agreed—as a favor to a friend—to be the overnight host for a prospective legacy student, which is the academic world means a potential student who has at least one alumni parent.

Apr 24 2007 | Read Full Review of The Price of Admission: How A...

American Diplomacy

For every wealthy student admitted to the likes of Harvard and Yale, Golden gives examples of countless students who are rejected from the same schools – often for no other reason than that they do not possess that asset which elite universities so covet: money.

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