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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton » User review

Well researched look into admissions, selections, and exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

  • Apr 30, 2009
  • by
Karabel has created a massive tome of information surrounding the history of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton since the early 1900s. His account is very well researched and provides ample documentation to support his arguments and findings.

While reading "The Chosen," it become clear how convenient it is to use admissions and selections at institutions of higher education as a tool for creating the cohort of students that the institution wants to educate. At Princeton, the average height of the male class was around 6'2", giving rise to the claim of the "Princeton Man." It is almost offensive at some of the ways students were excluded or the comments written about certain students in their official file; however, times have certainly changed in the past 100 years.

One problem with "The Chosen" is that Karabel invests a huge amount of time with the admission and exclusion of the Jewish population at the start of the 1900s. This in and of itself is not a problem; but, when one-third of the entire book revolves around one student classification and hardly anything is mentioned about the exclusion of women and African-Americans I start to wonder about the focus of the book. The only reason I can see for this overwhelming focus is that the practice of admitting and excluding certain student types followed the model of admitting and excluding Jewish students which started the revolution of diverse student populations.

"The Chosen" also will provide a better education to many people who still believe that Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are only interested in elite students. This book chronicles the lengths that these schools have gone to in order to diversify and make a more "well-rounded" student population. In fact, these three schools did not even originally recruit at public schools and now they do a large portion of recruiting at public high schools. This book provides a wonderful historic account of the evolution of the elite three higher education schools in the United States.

I highly recommend this book for anybody who works in a college environment or who may have a child who might be interested in attending one of these three schools. I also recommend this book for history fanatics.

Good reading,

Plants and Books

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May 03, 2009
I'm surprised that Ivy League colleges still maintain their prestige when it's well known that something around 90% of their students are the offspring of alumni. It's more like an exclusive club than a merit system. That being said, there are some great universities outside of the Ivy League, like the U of Chicago!
May 04, 2009
It is true, although they do a heavy amount of recruiting outside of the legacies. I think it hard to ruin the prestigious factor when you have multi-billion dollar endowments. Harvard lost a couple billion dollars from their endowment in the recent recession and market problems! That alone is hard for me to fathom. I guess branding is pretty important.
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About this book



ISBN-10: 0618574581
ISBN-13: 978-0618574582
Author: Jerome Karabel
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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