The Merit Myth: How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America

New Pr. May 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781620974865. $27.99. ED
Carnevale (Georgetown Univ. Ctr. on Education and the Workforce), Peter Schmidt (Color and Money: How Rich White Kids Are Winning the War over College Affirmative Action), and Jeff Strohl (Georgetown Univ. Ctr. on Education and the Workforce) argue that elite colleges are not meritocratic; rather, they’re more likely to admit students of high socioeconomic status. The authors explore potential reasons for this (legacy admissions, emphasis on standardized test scores, and unconscious bias in the admissions process), grounding their research in current and historical details. They also suggest ways to diversify the student body of elite colleges, including minimizing the effects of standardized test scores, requiring colleges to admit a certain percentage of low-income students, and measuring student outcomes for colleges and specific programs of study. Readers should be aware of some conflation among selective colleges, elite colleges, and high-quality colleges.
VERDICT Those interested in inequities in the admissions practices of elite colleges will find this a considered examination.

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