Rich man goes to college
While the poor man goes to work.
Charlie Daniels' above statement on the divide between social classes might have been inaccurate for a brief period in the 90s, but as with all things, it's becoming true again.
My girlfriend (who just returned from her trip to defend her thesis--hooray!) and my crosslinked buddy Downstown have dealt with this NY Times article on economic inequity in college-land pretty well, although they come up with slightly different outlooks. Amy salutes the lower reputation colleges, the places where the two of us got our BAs and our MFAs, places like Florida Atlantic and Southeastern Lousiana, places that, as Amy says "are trying to educate everyday people." I agree with her completely as far as the lesser known schools are concerned--I've never been ashamed of the fact that I went to SLU and I'll always be proud of that degree. I hope, as she does, that the elite schools mentioned in the article are serious about trying to extend opportunities to the less fortunate. My gut tells me it's a lot of window dressing.
Greg argues that the best way to undercut the power that today's elite schools wield is to treat those who attend those schools as beneficiaries of legacy, as children of country club members. Greg has a point that Harvard and other elite school grads get a bit too much of a bump from the rep that their school has attained, but I don't know that mocking them is the answer. It seems to me that any school that has hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars of donations to work with doesn't need any federal help--send that money to the democratic schools, the folks on the ground, as Greg put it, "committed to training under-paid ministers" or for that matter schoolteachers, archaeologists, social workers and poets.
My suggestion? Go to school where you can get a good education without going too deeply into hock and then make the most of it. If someone looks down on you because you went to Arkansas instead of Yale, bust him up in a game of Trivial Pursuit and then whack him with a pool cue. That'll teach him.