uni elites

kelley kcwalker at syr.edu
Tue Aug 10 10:23:42 PDT 1999

a friend of mine just presented a paper on his eresearch on dartmouth and the reproduction of cultural capital. i have an attachment he just sent of the entire paper if anyone wants it, though i've not actually read it yet. he refers to it as dirtmouth, though, so there's a clue. the press release from his current uni employer sparked this response, nothing new, i guess, but i thought it interesting in terms of HIC. having taught at small elite institutions it's clear to me that a college degree from the likes of these places surely is nothing more than a badge and says nothing about ability. and that i think is one of the tensions, insights that can also be gleaned from the narratives of some of the folks in HIC: ----------------------------------------

Do elite colleges matter? Are the worth the money? Consider:

In 2000 we will most likely have a choice between Harvard (Gore), Yale (Bush), or Princeton (Bradley).

Of our nine current Supreme Court justices, four attended the same undergraduate college (Stanford). Of the five others, we find graduates of Harvard, Cornell, Chicago, Georgetown, and Holy Cross. Five out of the nine attended a single law school (Harvard); the other law schools are Stanford (2), Yale, Columbia, and Northwestern. (Ginsberg attended Harvard Law for two years, then transferred to Columbia). Not one attended a public university or college, or an obscure private school.

Of the top four cabinet positions:

State: Wellesley (Albright)

Defense: Bowdoin (Cohen)

Treasury: MIT (Summers, replacing Harvard (Rubin))

Attorney-General: Cornell (Reno)

Similar patterns, although not as extreme, can be found in business, the arts, etc. Keep in mind that only about 1-2% of all college graduates attended elite private colleges. Because larger numbers of Americans are attending (mostly public) universities and colleges, the percentage attending elite institutions has probably declined over time, which makes the disproportionate success of elite graduates even more striking.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list