Curated by CLAI
TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS: Fieldston and University Heights are in the same borough but worlds apart. How much understanding between their students can a well-told story bring? University Heights High School is on St. Anns Avenue in the South Bronx, which is part of the poorest congressional district in America, according to the Census Bureau. Six miles away is the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, with its arched stone entrance and celebrities’ children and $43,000-a-year tuition.
- Amy: “It’s only my mom and me, and my mother breaks her back to pay bills so we’ll be able to live a decent life. It just makes me want to have two jobs instead of one so she could stop working. I know I can’t do that, though, so I constantly think about college and my career and how much money I’ll make so she can finally stop working. I just want to make her life easier and thank her for supporting me on her own.”
- Juliet: “We’re trained from a very young age to search for clues about money in the slightest details. And, of course, money matters. It would be untrue to say we spent an afternoon telling each other’s stories and ‘got past that whole difference in class thing.’ But when you tell someone’s story, that’s something precious, and you have to take care of it, you have to take care of them. Afterward, as my partner was making me laugh during all the ‘serious face’ photos, I was really grateful that he had taken as much care with my story as I tried to with his.”
WHY IS IT HARDER TO GET INTO IVIES? One overlooked factor is that top colleges are admitting fewer American students than they did a generation ago. Colleges have globalized over that time, deliberately increasing the share of their student bodies that come from overseas and leaving fewer slots for applicants from the United States.
- For American teenagers, it really is harder to get into Harvard — or Yale, Stanford, Brown, Boston College or many other elite colleges — than it was when today’s 40-year-olds or 50-year-olds were applying. The number of spots filled by American students at Harvard, after adjusting for the size of the teenage population nationwide, has dropped 27 percent since 1994. At Yale and Dartmouth, the decline has been 24 percent. At Carleton, it’s 22 percent. At Notre Dame and Princeton, it is 14 percent.
- This globalization obviously brings some big benefits. It has exposed American students to perspectives that our proudly parochial country often does not provide in childhood.
- The rise in foreign students has complicated the colleges’ stated efforts to make their classes more economically diverse. Foreign students often receive scant financial aid and tend to be from well-off families.
- After decades of being dominated by male students coming from a narrow network of prep schools, these schools have become a patchwork of diversity — gender, race, religion and now geography. Underneath the surface, though, that patchwork still has some common threads.