Invisible no more: How advising programs are finding new talent for top colleges

But a growing movement of nonprofit talent hunters and advisers is seeking to raise the ambitions of disadvantaged students and connect them with premier colleges, attacking a widespread problem researchers call “undermatching.” Some are helping eye-catching numbers of students land at colleges with low admission rates, including Georgetown University in Washington.

.. Most disadvantaged students with strong academic credentials “just don’t get why it is that they should be interested in applying to a selective college,” said Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford University economist. They take one look at the sticker price of private colleges, often exceeding $60,000 a year, and write them off. They don’t realize financial aid can put schools with small class sizes and high graduation rates within their reach. Instead, Hoxby said, these students focus on community colleges or others they see as accessible, inexpensive and ­convenient.

.. in a 2012 study that at least 25,000 low-income students a year, and probably 35,000, rank in the top 10 percent on SAT or ACT admission test scores and have at least an ­A-minus average. Most of them, Hoxby and Avery found, do not apply to any selective college — rendering them effectively invisible to admissions officers.

.. The Hoxby-Avery study rang alarms. It suggested selective colleges were overlooking legions of deserving students.

The DOJ Takes on Campus Discrimination

But the children of white working-class families who pay a racial penalty when competing for college spots against the children of Nigerian college professors and Colombian oil executives are not the only ones with a legitimate complaint. The de facto discrimination against Asian and Asian-American students is spectacular, undeniable, and shameful. They are in effect subjected to the same quota system that the Ivy League once used to keep down its Jewish population — the “bamboo ceiling,” some call it.

.. Asian-American groups pursuing litigation against these policies have demonstrated that students of Asian background on average have to score 140 points above white students to have similar chances of college admission — and 270 points higher than Hispanic students, and 450 points higher than black students. The “Asian penalty” is especially heavy in places such as California’s prestigious state universities.

Is American Childhood Creating an Authoritarian Society?

More so than any other generation, parents and educators have instilled in millennials the idea that, as Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it, “life is dangerous, but adults will do everything in their power to protect you from harm.”

.. kindergartens have “changed radically in the last two decades.” Exploration, exercise, and imagination are being deemphasized and play has “dwindled to the vanishing point.” Instead, kindergartens are introducing “lengthy lessons” and “highly prescriptive curricula geared to new state standards and linked to standardized tests”—curricula often taught by teachers who “must follow scripts from which they may not deviate.”

.. parents since the mid-1980s have purchased fewer multi-purpose, unstructured toys like clay and blocks that “encourage play that children can control and shape to meet their individual needs over time.” Today’s bestselling toys like action figures and video games “promote highly-structured play.”

.. practically every declining health outcome in children can be traced to the sedentary, indoor, micromanaged lives that now define American childhood.

.. children with mothers fearful of neighborhood safety are more likely to watch over two hours of TV per day, instead of playing outside. When American students are moving for only 18 minutes per day at school, it’s hardly a surprise that we’ve seen since the 1970s a more than threefold increase in the number of overweight 6 to 11 year olds.

Experts meanwhile are linking increasing rates of anger, aggression, and severe behavior problems to a lack of free play. These outcomes are consistent with evolutionary psychology theories that consider play to be a critical part of child development, teaching children to cope with, and ultimately master, fears and phobias.

.. University of Chicago law professors Aziz Huq and Tom Ginsburg ask whether the United States is at risk of democratic backsliding. Huq and Ginsburg found that the risk of incremental but ultimately substantial decay in democratic norms has “spiked” and now presents a “clear and present” danger. The authors argue that a “larger shift toward an illiberal democracy” is well within the cards.

.. social scientists have long argued that the origins of authoritarian societies can be discerned in childhood pathologies.

.. In the case of Nazi Germany, Miller is convinced that Hitler would not have come to power but for turn-of-the-century German childrearing practices that emphasized “unthinking obedience” and discouraged creativity. The millions of Germans who ultimately supported Nazism, in Miller’s views, were coping with the legacy of a “hidden concentration camp of childhood”—one enforced by the “clean, orderly citizens, God-fearing, respectable churchgoers” who comprised the ranks of Germany’s authority figures.

.. More so than any other factor—identity, religiosity, income etc.—it was voters’ attitudes on childrearing that predicted their support for Trump. Those who believe that is more important for children to be respectful rather than independent; obedient over self-reliant; well-behaved more than considerate; and well-mannered versus curious, were more than two and a half times as likely to support Trump than those with the opposite preferences.

.. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that few institutions in American society have embraced authoritarianism as decisively in recent years as academia—the arena where helicoptered millennials increasingly get their first taste of independence.

.. Behind these authoritarian efforts are an army of “chief diversity officers”—75 of whom have been hired between 2015 and 2016 at colleges and universities. Their mandate: train students against “subtle insults,” “environmental microaggressions,” and “microinvalidations.”

.. Jonathan Chait sees not simply a “rigorous commitment to social equality” but rather an “undemocratic creed” and a “system of left-wing ideological repression.”