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The ‘Missing Middle’ at Ivy-Plus Colleges

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert 492 replies2904 threads CC Admissions Expert
"A new report finds the middle class is heavily underrepresented at elite private colleges -- and boosting low- and middle-income student representation at such colleges could increase U.S. income mobility.

Students with similar test scores but different household incomes attend selective colleges at different rates, according to the latest report from Opportunity Insights, a group that has published groundbreaking research on how colleges may affect students' income mobility.

But the results contained some surprises. For example, middle-class students attend elite institutions at rates lower than students from the lowest income quintile." ...

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/21/middle-class-heavily-underrepresented-top-private-colleges-report-finds
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Replies to: The ‘Missing Middle’ at Ivy-Plus Colleges

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81177 replies728 threads Senior Member
    edited February 21
    https://opportunityinsights.org/paper/undermatching/ is the actual report. Need to dig through it to find the actual numbers, including the definition of "middle class" (which may not necessarily be the same as how the term and related ones like "donut hole" are used on these forums).
    edited February 21
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  • PetraMCPetraMC 944 replies7 threads Member
    Well it's pushing $80K per year to attend my kids' colleges. Real shocker that the middle class can't afford it.

    In my state, tuition is free at public universities for those making under $125K. They just have to come up with the other costs of living on campus, or commute.

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  • chb088chb088 1090 replies32 threads Senior Member
    @vistajay Yep. I assume they are bright, but not necessarily more brilliant than 99% of kids. That or their parents bought their way in. I think Rob Lowe was talking about how proud he was of his kids (Duke and Stanford?) and I was thinking, yeah, I am sure they got in on their merits.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81177 replies728 threads Senior Member
    edited February 21
    https://opportunityinsights.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/coll_undermatch_exec_summary.pdf classifies parental income level by quintiles.
    Quintl* Range** % attending*
                    any***  Ivy-Plus****
    1       0-25k   51       7.3
    2       25-50k  55       4.7
    3       50-80k  57       4.5
    4       80-130k 62       4.4
    5       130k+   74.5    10.8
    
    * From Figure 1 of https://opportunityinsights.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/coll_undermatch_exec_summary.pdf
    ** From https://dqydj.com/average-median-top-household-income-percentiles/
    *** any selective college with SAT 1080
    **** "Ivy-Plus" college with SAT 1400
    

    The forum "middle class" is probably mostly in the top quintile ($130k+), based on common forum conventional wisdom like this:
    chb088 wrote: »
    No surprise here. Middle Class kids don't get financial help,

    Note that the Harvard NPC at https://college.harvard.edu/financial-aid/net-price-calculator suggests a net price of $15k for a student from a family of 3 with parental income of $130k. To get no financial aid, the parental income has to be increased to $265k (above the 95th percentile).
    edited February 21
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  • vistajayvistajay 1538 replies28 threads Senior Member
    @chb088 , I am not quite that cynical, as I don't have any reason to suspect that Lowe's kids did not have great grades and scores and do well at their respective colleges. Perhaps the something extra that got them in was their family name or donor potential, or perhaps they were just full pay, ED applicants who met the academic criteria as well. Students who have the means to be full pay and can apply ED have such a huge admissions advantage at these schools
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  • chb088chb088 1090 replies32 threads Senior Member
    @vistajay Probably all of the above for his kids...which I couldn't do for my kids. And @ucbalumnus Income is all relative to COL.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81177 replies728 threads Senior Member
    chb088 wrote: »
    Income is all relative to COL.

    There are only 6 metros where $265k is less than the 90th percentile household income, according to https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-by-city-calculator/ . Even in those places, those which have entries in the calculator above on that page have $265k at least at the 84th percentile household income.
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  • chb088chb088 1090 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Well I am not making anything close to that!
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  • OneMoreToGo2021OneMoreToGo2021 383 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 21
    When I encounter an Ivy student or recent grad, I am no longer immediately impressed and assume brilliance.

    Honestly, it's never been about brilliance anyway.

    Kids at the T20s are bright for sure, probably the bulk of them fall in the 1.5-2.5 standard deviations above the mean range. Very few truly exceptional kids at the schools, though, even at HYPS. Maybe 5%, triple or quadruple that figure at places like MIT and Caltech. Certainly not more than that.
    edited February 21
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81177 replies728 threads Senior Member
    chb088 wrote: »
    Well overall, I agree with the article's findings. Middle class kids are choosing to attend elsewhere due to cost.

    Cost or non-admission? The paper's presumed middle class appears to be the three middle quintiles of income ($25k to $130k), who would pay $15k or lower net price at Harvard.
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  • chb088chb088 1090 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Hmm, well I can't speak for everyone, but in our case, applying elsewhere due to cost. And I don't really think only the low and high income are able to gain admission, while middle class kids are not. I think that is the point of the article.
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