Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How equitable is education? Amherst College carries the lead

Is a top-tier college education in the US for everyone or is it mostly a portal for the elite to climb even higher? This story in the New York Times profiles the efforts of Anthony Marx, the president of Amherst College, in diversifying the pool of students from various economic backgrounds who are admitted and have the opportunity to enroll at the college.

An overwhelming percentage of students at top colleges such as Georgetown and the University of Michigan (whose statistics are cited in the article) still come from high income backgrounds. Anthony Marx is trying to change all that with Amherst's new policy on financial aid. The college is distributing most of its resources to aid in the form of direct grants rather than loans. There's even a scholarship for low-income foreign students, and Amherst representatives are making an effort to reach out to more and more high schools in low-income areas of the U.S. The transfer program at Amherst also links directly to community colleges; in fact, most transfer students at Amherst now hail from community colleges, havens for students who are eager to learn but cannot afford an expensive education.

These steps offer hope as the US government cracks down on the education budget. It's nice too know that, though we are now mostly losing money for America's students, there are still educators out there working toward making opportunities at top colleges available to all.

No comments: