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At Sororities, Likeness Becomes Alikeness

Hearing the term "greek nepotism" typically conjures thoughts of brothers pulling strings to get a spot in a fraternity house. But what happens when "greek nepotism" extends past the college community and into the Supreme Court or boardroom of a Fortune 500 company? Combine this issue with the fact that fraternities and sororities are highly askew when it comes to racial diversity, and some serious issues come into play, says TCF policy associate Clio Chang.

Take the University of Alabama, for example. The school was put on the hot seat in 2013 when the university’s newspaper brought to national attention that Kennedi Cobb, an all-around perfect potential new member – minus the fact that she was black – didn’t receive a single bid from any of the 16 sororities on campus. In it’s entire history, the universities's sororities had only previously admitted a single black member.

Read Chang's full article from US News & World Report.

Tags: sororities, race-based admissions, nepotism, greek life, fraternities

The Best Investment the U.S. Could Make — Affordable Higher Education

"We can do better than this," says TCF fellow Mark Thoma on the topic of affordable higher education in the U.S. He provides shocking statistics on college tuition and the saddening student debt numbers that go with it. Since 2004, student loan balances have more than tripled for college-goers in America.

Our data indicate that both increased numbers of borrowers and larger balances per borrower are contributing to the rapid expansion in student loans. Between 2004 and 2014, we saw a 74 percent increase in average balances and a 92 percent increase in the number of borrowers. Now there are 43 million borrowers, up from 42 million borrowers at the end of 2013, with an average balance per borrower of about $27,000.

Check out Thoma's full article.

Tags: student debt, rising inequality, community colleges, college tuition

As He Promotes It, Some Question Obama’s Free Community College Idea

There are mixed feelings when it comes to President Obama's promotion of free community college for all who wish to attend and maintain satisfactory academic status. One proponent of the proposal is TCF fellow Halley Potter, who is quoted in a US News and World Report article commenting about the increase in student body diversity that universal community college would bring about.

While some experts who have closely considered the president’s proposal in the weeks since he unveiled it think it can help accomplish what Obama says he’s after – increasing the number of people with degrees – others aren’t so sure. They point out that community college tuition already is free for low-income students, since they qualify for existing financial aid that typically covers those costs.

Read Potter's commentary in this article.

Tags: student integration, educational diversity, education reform, community college

Politicians, Alumni Seek Admissions Help, But Universities Rarely Comply, Experts Say

Allegations have recently surfaced that University of Texas at Austin president, Bill Powers, has historically given preferential treatment to applicants whose families provide generous donations to the school. Despite the president's reputation for being a staunch supporter of affirmative action, Powers is facing criticism based on his decision to admit a handful of students who may not have deserved a spot at the university. TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg provides commentary in the article saying that the information that was released about Powers has severely tarnished his reputation.

UT, which has been locked in a legal battle over its consideration of race in admissions, showed commitment to ethnic and racial diversity in several cases, the Kroll report said, but the fact that elite applicants benefited in other cases could cast the school in a new light.

Read the full article from the Houston Chronicle.

Tags: race-based affirmative action, class-based affirmative action, affirmative action, admissions

UT Looks Great in Scandal If You Don’t Read Any of Them Furrin Publications

The has been considerable criticism surrounding the recent reveal that the University of Texas at Austin allows for "political and social connections" to add weight to the acceptance likelihood of applicants. Featured in a article is TCF senior fellow Rick Kahlenberg who goes over the cases made against the university including their disregard for the "10 percent rule" which stipulates that if you graduate in the top 10 percent of your high school class, you're guaranteed admission to UT -- Austin.

UT devoted all of its energies before the report was released to hounding Hall to the four corners of the Earth. When the report was released, Powers' reaction was a sullen 15-minute press conference in which he said even if he lied everybody else does it, too. And McRaven said he found nothing in that to punish.

Check out the full article.

Tags: socio-economic diversity, race-based admissions, college admission, affirmative action

UT-Austin Should Be Honest About Strings Pulled to Gain Admission, Expert Says

We as Americans like to believe that hard work ultimately is what gets students into a good college. However, at the University of Texas, simply having political or other connections allows "a select handful" of applicants to earn admittance to the school each year. TCF senior fellow Richard Kahlenberg discussed the unfairness of these preferential systems and why they should be exposed.

Kahlenberg said he’s opposed to legacy preferences, saying it disproportionately benefits wealthier students.

“But providing a preference for influential state legislators is worse in my view,” he said. “These are people who are supposed to be pursuing the public interest.”

Research shows that graduates of selective colleges earn more over time than those who attended less selective schools, Kahlenberg said. “If you were giving a state legislator something of value, monetary value, people would want to know about that and raise questions about it.”

See more of Richard's thoughts on this issue in The Daily Morning News.

Tags: texas, legacy admissions, higher education, admissions




Most K-12 education reforms are about trying to make "separate but equal" schools for rich and poor work well. The results of these efforts have been discouraging. The Century Foundation looks at ways to integrate public schools by economic status through public school choice. At the higher education level, we examine ways to open the doors of selective and non-selective institutions to students of modest means.

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