How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges & Who Gets Left Outside the Gates (2006)

The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges - and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates is a 2005 book by Daniel Golden, a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in journalism. The book criticizes admissions at elite American universities, including preferences given to the wealthy, children of celebrities, and legacy applicants. It also documents discrimination against Asian-Americans in the admissions process.

In 2017, the book was referenced by John Oliver, in the late-night talk show Last Week Tonight, regarding the way Jared Kushner got admitted to Harvard University, soon after the private Ivy League research university received a donation from Kushner's father. At the end of 2016, Golden expressed "gratitude to Jared Kushner", for "reviving interest the book".

Then Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dean of Admissions Marilee Jones is quoted in The Price of Admission as describing a Korean-American student as "yet another textureless math grind."[3] Two years after the book's publication, Jones was found out to have fabricated several degrees in order to get her first job at the MIT Admission Office.

The higher education bubble in the United States is the concern that excessive investment in higher education could have negative repercussions in the broader economy. Although college tuition payments are rising, the supply of college graduates in many fields of study is exceeding the demand for their skills, which aggravates graduate unemployment and underemployment while increasing the burden of student loan defaults on financial institutions and taxpayers. The claim has generally been used to justify cuts to public higher education spending, tax cuts, or a shift of government spending towards law enforcement and national security.

Some economists reject the notion of a higher education bubble, noting that the returns on higher education vastly outweigh the cost, while others believe that the number of institutions of higher education in the United States will fall in the 2020s and beyond, citing reasons of demographic decline, poor outcomes, economic problems, and changing public interests and attitudes. According to the U.S. Department of Education, by the late 2010s, people with technical or vocational trainings are slightly more likely to be employed than those with a bachelor's degree and significantly more likely to be employed in their fields of specialty. The United States currently suffers from a shortage of skilled tradespeople. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis noted in 2019 that investment in higher education has reached a point of diminishing marginal returns; undergraduate and graduate enrollments have both been in decline. Many faculty members are leaving academia, especially those from the humanities.

The "higher education bubble" is a source of controversy among economists. Data shows that the wage premium, the difference between what those with a four-year college degree earn and what those with only a high school education earn, has increased dramatically since the 1970s, but so has the 'debt load' incurred by students due to the tuition inflation.

Research from the Center for Household Financial Stability, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, presented in 2018, predicts a declining but still positive income premium for completing college but a declining wealth premium, which is almost indistinguishable from zero for the most recent cohort. The data also suggests that, notwithstanding a slight increase in 2008–09, student loan default rates have declined since the mid-1980s and 1990s. Those with college degrees are much less likely than those without to be unemployed, even though they are more expensive to employ (they earn higher wages). The management consulting firm McKinsey & Company projects a shortage of college-educated workers and a surplus of workers without college degrees, which would cause the wage premium to increase and cause differences in unemployment rates to become even more dramatic.

In 1971, Time ran the article "Education: Graduates and Jobs: A Grave New World" which stated that the supply of PhD students was 30 to 50 percent larger than the expected future demand in upcoming decades. In 1987, U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett suggested that the availability of loans may be fueling an increase in tuition prices and an education bubble. This "Bennett hypothesis" claims that readily available loans allow schools to increase tuition without regard to demand elasticity. College rankings are partially driven by spending levels, and higher tuition is also correlated with increased public perceptions of prestige. Over the past thirty years, demand has increased as institutions improved facilities and provided more resources to students.
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