David Brooks' review of of Jerome Karabel's "The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton." Normally I am very weary of the impression, often contained in the NY Times, that there are fewer than ten colleges worth attending in the entire United States; however, despite my initial reluctance I enjoyed his review and will buy and read the book.
One part of Brooks' review especially caught my attention; essentially, a 1960s admittance shift, ostensibly meritocratic in nature, by these elite colleges has resulted in a less diverse socio-economic student body. 'The Chosen': Getting In - New York Times: "In 1952, more than 37 percent of Harvard freshmen had fathers who had not attended college. By 1996, less than 11 percent did. In 1954, 10 percent of Harvard freshmen had fathers who worked at blue-collar jobs. Forty-two years later, only 5 percent did."
This observation fits in with Michael Bennet's "When Dreams Came True: The GI Bill and the Making of Modern America" . I have been reading his very compelling argument that the post-war period represented the most dynamic and socially mobile era of U.S. history. The 1950s, long derided for its perceived conformity and dullness, re-emerges in Bennet's book as the decade of true fundemental change and progress. By the way, the then president of Harvard, Conant, opposed the education provision of the G.I. Bill because of its implied threat to the educated elite.