The College Puzzle Blog
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Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Guest Blogger Su Jin Gatlin of WestEd: Admission of Low-Income Students at Selective Colleges

A significant amount of attention is focused on the role of race in the college choice process, although recent reports have begun to focus on the access problem that exists for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, especially with regards to selective colleges. One report found that only about 10% of students at highly selective colleges came from the lowest 40% of the family income distribution. While race receives most of the public’s attention, we need to focus more on the role of income in who attends college.

Compounding the fact that low-income students have largely been ignored in the college admissions process is that they are the ones that benefit most from attending elite universities. These students benefit personally from higher rates of graduation and higher incomes after graduation, and society benefits from decreased dependence on public services and increased diversity in corporate, political, and military leadership.

Furthermore, most elite universities, while claiming to desire low SES students, have not been giving any them preferences during the admissions process. Findings like these on the effect of family income on college attendance have been remarkable, further highlighting the vast inequalities in higher education, especially at highly selective universities.

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