The topic for this week is education, and one of the articles, “A School in a Garden,” deals directly with the theme. The article explores the issues of social stratification which are enforced by the institute of higher education and how the patterns of admission to elite colleges change the way discrimination works. The article I wish to summarize concerns the observations which Mitchell L. Stevens made, considering the social status of the people who enter upper-class colleges and the previous research conducted on the topic. He analyzed the core characteristics which make a certain school seem elite. These features included the visual aesthetics of the campus, the athleticism of students which is presented by college sports teams, and the number of applications a school declines. The people who want to enter prestigious colleges nowadays should possess qualities that are hard to develop without any financial support.
The stratification based on applicants’ visual features is gone, but the new system created another way to divide people by their social backgrounds. The conclusion Stevens drew was that, even though the applicants are not judged by their skin color or name in the present day, the system of admission still creates class division (Stevens, 2007). More wealthy families who know the rules of the system start shaping the lives of their children so that, by the time they finish school, they are almost ready to be admitted to an elite college. Not many people can afford such a lifestyle, so children from less wealthy families are more likely to fail. To make these conclusions, Stevens (2007) explores the concept of education by providing data about the influence of higher education on the future of college graduates. It occurs that people with higher education are in demand on the labor market but only the wealthy can get the more high-paying jobs, which just recycles wealth. Thus, the social stratification in education is not so obvious nowadays, it is still present.
In conclusion, even though the meritocracy of college admissions is far better than everything the educational system had before, there is still much room for its improvement. Introducing a unified way to assess applicants’ skills made the process of evaluation easier. However, now, the system of education needs another reform to create more opportunities for people from less wealthy families.
Stevens, M. L. (2007). A school in a garden. In Creating a class, pp. 5–31, Harvard University Press.