Contemporary Elitism in Higher Education in the United States: An Issue Scan

12 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2020

See all articles by Elizabeth Lorbeer

Elizabeth Lorbeer

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine

Date Written: January 1, 2020

Abstract

This paper outlined the competitive nature of the admissions process of elite schools of higher education in the United States. Highly selective colleges and universities perpetuate social elitism through legacy preferences in admissions, low acceptance rates, and keeping tuition rates steep. Students who attend selective schools for higher education predominately self-identify as being of high socioeconomic status. Admission angst has increased for non-legacy applicants, as fewer spots are available for admittance because of legacy preference. The affluent parent views selective schools as an exclusive brand to validate and perpetuate class status. Wealthier families can afford to send their children to elite K-12 schools, provide tutors and enrichment activities, all to better position their child to eventually attend a highly selective college or university. Elite schools use a meritocratic system to identify the brightest and most talented students, yet most applicants selected for admission are from well-off families.

Keywords: elitism, privilege, higher education, meritocracy, social class

Suggested Citation

Lorbeer, Elizabeth, Contemporary Elitism in Higher Education in the United States: An Issue Scan (January 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3512115 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3512115

Elizabeth Lorbeer (Contact Author)

Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine ( email )

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