Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students
The Ivy League looks different than it used to. College presidents and deans of admission have opened their doors—and their coffers—to support a more diverse student body. But is it enough just to admit these students? In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack, Ph.D. reveals that the struggles of less privileged students continue long after they’ve arrived on campus. Admission, they quickly learn, is not the same as acceptance. This bracing and necessary book documents how university policies and cultures can exacerbate preexisting inequalities and reveals why these policies hit some students harder than others.
Despite their lofty aspirations, top colleges hedge their bets by recruiting their new diversity largely from the same old sources, admitting scores of lower-income black, Latino, and white undergraduates from elite private high schools like Exeter and Andover. These students approach campus life very differently from students who attended local, and typically troubled, public high schools and are often left to flounder on their own. Drawing on interviews with dozens of undergraduates at one of America’s most famous colleges and on his own experiences as one of the privileged poor, Prof. Jack describes the lives poor students bring with them and shows how powerfully background affects their chances of success.
Prof. Jack, a native of Miami, received a scholarship to attend Gulliver Preparatory School, an elite private high school in South Florida. He went on to receive degrees from Amherst College and Harvard University. He is currently a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Shutzer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Prof. Jack’s research documents the overlooked diversity among lower-income undergraduates: the “doubly disadvantaged,” those who enter college from local, typically distressed public high schools; and the “privileged poor,” those who do so from boarding, day, and preparatory high schools. His scholarship appears in the Du Bois Review, Sociological Forum, and Sociology of Education and has earned awards from the American Sociological Association, Eastern Sociological Society, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Prof. Jack held fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation and was a 2015 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow. The National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan named him a 2016 Emerging Diversity Scholar. The New York Times, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, The National Review, The Washington Post, The Hechinger Report, American RadioWorks, and NPR have featured his research and writing as well as biographical profiles of his experiences as a first-generation college student.