The competition for a spot in the Ivy Leagueâwidely considered the ticket to successâis fierce and getting fiercer. But the admissions policies of elite universities have long been both tightly controlled and shrouded in secrecy. In The Chosen, the Berkeley sociologist Jerome Karabel lifts the veil on a century of admission and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. How did the policies of our elite schools evolve? Whom have they let in and why? And what do those policies say about America?
A grand narrative brimming with insights, The Chosen provides a lens through which to examine some of the main events and movements of America in the twentieth centuryâfrom immigration restriction and the Great Depression to the dropping of the atomic bomb and the launching of Sputnik, from the Cold War to the triumph of the market ethos.
Many of Karabelâs findings are astonishing: the admission of blacks into the Ivy League wasnât an idealistic response to the civil rights movement but a fearful reaction to inner-city riots; Yale and Princeton decided to accept women only after realizing that they were losing men to colleges (such as Harvard and Stanford) that had begun accepting âthe second sexâ; Harvard had a systematic quota on âintellectualsâ until quite recently; and discrimination against Asian Americans in the 1980s mirrored the treatment of Jews earlier in the century.
Drawing on decades of meticulous research, Karabel shines a light on the ever-changing definition of âmeritâ in college admissions, showing how it shapedâand was shaped byâthe country at large. Full of colorful characters, from FDR and Woodrow Wilson to Kingman Brewster and Archibald Cox, The Chosen charts the century-long battle over opportunityâand offers a new and deeply original perspective on American history.
About: The author presents the findings of his survey of admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, revealing a century of exclusion that cuts to the core of the American experience, while raising questions about the stratification of higher education in America.
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