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Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites
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Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  190 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In real life, Mitchell Stevens is a professor in bustling New York. But for a year and a half, he worked in the admissions office of a bucolic New England college that is known for its high academic standards, beautiful campus, and social conscience. Ambitious high schoolers and savvy guidance counselors know that admission here is highly competitive. But creating classes, ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Harvard University Press (first published September 1st 2007)
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Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was really very interesting – much more interesting than I thought it was going to be. It is about a sociologist spending 18 months, I think, doing research in a Liberal Arts College admissions office in the US. Now, I didn’t know what a liberal arts college was prior to reading this – turns out it is a private university where rich people send their kids so that they get a rounded education. Seeing how these organisations go about selecting students to attend – and how they encourage stude ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read! A sociology professor worked in the admissions office at a northeastern liberal arts college. This book shed light on the importance of the relationships that admissions staff have with high school guidance staff as well as relationships across campus (athletics, development, etc). It highlighted the many small things that add up to acceptance at a selective institution. Great metaphor of privileged students in the HOV lane in a luxury SUV on the highway to success. While other ...more
Lesley Looper
I enjoyed reading this book, partly because my youngest niece has gone through the admissions process this past academic year. Creating a Class reiterated what I already knew about the competitiveness of the admissions process, but it was interesting hearing it from an "outside insider." (The author is a professor who did a stint in Admissions.) I'd definitely recommend this book to people in academia, as well as parents interested in sending their children to a competitive school.
Josh Doty
The author identifies systematic preferences for the upper class from elite universities but somehow fails to condemn them.
Vincent Chunhao
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tressie Mcphd
I think this is supposed to be a popular press book but I think it deserves a place in a good Soc of Ed class. Do Soc of Ed classes even pay much attention to higher education stratification? I'm not sure. I do a lot of guest lecturing that suggests not. But I diverge. This is a good, solid, readable book about how inequalities in K-12 get "ratcheted" up to higher education through organizational processes and cultural transmission. The trick is, how you gonna outlaw culture and organizations? Y ...more
Emily Anderer
Loved this book, maybe the best I've read on highly selective admissions. I have read a lot on the subject and was suprised by how much I learned from reading this. I really enjoyed how it placed college admissions in the context of the development of the American upper middle class and the role of elite education in passing on privilege to the next generation. Most books about college admissions seem to be written by journalists - including the very similar The Gatekeepers : Inside the Admissio ...more
Jen C.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine, a grad student at NYU, saw Mitchell Stevens speak and recommended Creating a Class to me. Stevens, an NYU professor, took a year away from teaching to do in-field research on higher ed admissions by working in the admissions office of an East Coast liberal arts college.

I went to a college which resembles the one Stephens worked at, and I volunteered in the admissions office for many years. I also worked two summers at the admissions office of a community college. Plus, I've app
Tiny Pants
It would be hard for me to say enough good things about this book -- Stevens does a masterful job marshaling participant observation data that in less skillful hands might fall flat. His findings not only offers insights about the role of academics, race, and athletics in elite college admissions; Stevens also creates a powerful argument (and genuine innovation in the sociology of education) connecting the rise of higher education in the United States, the transition from a Fordist to a post-For ...more
Beth Harper
A good look, from a scholarly participant-observer, of how the college admissions process works at a prestigious liberal arts college, from the college's perspective. I appreciated that the book looked not just at the admissions office, but how it interacts with the athletics, development, and diversity departments/offices of the college, and also how the college markets itself to students. It made me look at all the parenting and education work that middle- and upper-class families and the scho ...more
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye opening book for high school students and parents. A candid look into the inner workings of an admissions department at a Northeast highly selective liberal arts college from a professor's perspective (rather than the journalist's perspective in The Gatekeepers). The author spent 18 months working in the Admissions Department for this anonymous college. I learned that even the best of intentions get waylaid by everyday issues of workload and the basic principles of economics.
Interesting look at admissions in one competitive northeastern college. Very engaging writing for what could be a dry topic. Lots of interesting insights about how education reinforces existing class boundaries (for example, only people with money can afford the kind of experiences for their children that look good during competitive admissions). Also interesting insights on the role of sports in colleges, particularly the way that the sports divisions signal the status of the school.
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-list
Helen Cosner
Elite college admissions are VERY similar to TFA admissions! Interesting book, not sure I buy the thesis.
Dec 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an easy read. It was interesting to get an inside look at college admissions and some of the less talked about aspects of recruiting.
La'Tonya Rease Miles
Started off strong and ended OK. I really enjoyed the author's class analysis but at times, it felt like he was trying to hard to distinguish this text from Those That Came Before.
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents of HS students
the insider scoop on what goes on in the backrooms of the admissions offices of elite private colleges
Mar 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative but could have been more tightly edited.
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and informative about elite schools.
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Academic in nature but easy enough to relate to. An eye opening look at the admissions game.
Colin Burke
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Nov 19, 2015
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Jeffrey Smith
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Feb 06, 2016
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Jun 07, 2013
Russ Vicente
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Apr 07, 2015
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Mar 21, 2017
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Jun 11, 2011
Santiago Castiello
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A sociologist who studies higher education, and the inaugural Director of the project Futures of Learning, Occupations, and Work (FLOW). An associate professor at Stanford.
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