Paul Tough, NYT bestselling author, shares what he learned in putting together his most recent book The Years That Matter Most. College may have a special place in the American Dream, but Paul enlightens us into what is really happening behind the scenes--it may have you rethinking decisions about higher education.
College holds a special place in the American Dream. It’s almost every parent’s hope for their kid to receive a four-year education and make a name for themself. A college diploma is more than a piece of paper; it’s a marker for success. A promise of steady income, a supportive social network, and opportunities to continue moving upward. But the truth is, that piece of paper is becoming more and more inaccessible every year.
Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds stress over the SAT and ACT like the scores determine their entire worth. Parents go gray trying to find ways to afford higher education. Even financial aid seems to be an elusive privilege to the families who need it most, and student loans loom darkly in the future. With so much at stake, one question is on everyone’s mind: Is college worth it?
Written over the course of six years, Paul’s book is packed with studies, research, and interviews with people all across the spectrum of higher education. He recounts the stories of low-income students at leading universities like Princeton and Yale while also offering insights from leading SAT tutors, recruiting agents from top banks and law firms, and more. All his findings point to one conclusion—one that might be disheartening to many: When it comes to college, money matters.
Struggling colleges and top institutions alike are constantly looking for ways to fund their expensive programs, meaning they look for students from high-income families who’re likely to be solid donors down the road. A student’s socioeconomic background even continues to influence their chances of success after graduation. Employers look for people with similar hobbies and experiences—people they can “shoot the shit” with. It creates a circle of affluence in higher education, and, in Paul’s words, lacrosse bros really do run the world.
- What the SAT and ACT are really testing
- The elite-college machine
- How admissions truly determine who to enroll
- If college is really becoming more diverse
- The barriers to higher education
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