College makes sense for the elite, but it might not for the working class

Joan Williams, May 24, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

While people in the lower classes are told that attending a  good college is the ticket to success, the reality is far different, according to the author. Getting into an elite college gets you in the door, but access to opportunities depends not on your education but on your social capital. Working class kids "don’t know the unwritten social codes of professional life." Interviews are "about passing a social test—a test of belonging, of holding your own in a corporate boardroom, of making connections with potential future clients." But the solution isn't simply to accept this, as the author seems to imply. It requires broad-based social reform: eliminating preferential access to college (by eliminating tuition and class-based admission policies); eliminating class-based hiring (by imposing strict merit-based hiring policies and an end to patronage); and most importantly, the development of social networks everyone can join. 
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