SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us

Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2019. 384p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544944480. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544944367. ED
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Journalist Tough (How Children Succeed) looks at the complex and unpredictable process of admission to and graduation from selective colleges to understand their effect on social mobility in the United States. He finds that Ivy League and other elite institutions have pledged to recruit and support talented low-income students. But these colleges’ policies and environments continue to privilege wealthy white students and neglect programs that can mitigate the impact of disadvantage. Tough presents extensive and thoughtful interviews with low-income students working hard to succeed but with insufficient understanding or support. He asserts that College Board claims that SAT exams are no longer biased in favor of the wealthy are unfounded.
VERDICT Drawing on broad reading and visits to campuses across the country, Tough’s work offers an indictment of American society and political structures and persuasively argues that universities must fulfill the American commitment to equality of opportunity

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