‘The Chosen’: Getting In

From The New York Times:

Bush_2 This is a large part of the story Jerome Karabel, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, tells in “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.” Karabel’s tale begins in 1900, when young men like Franklin Delano Roosevelt graduated from academies like Groton, St. Paul’s and Choate, moved easily and almost automatically to Cambridge, New Haven or Princeton and set the cultural tone at the country’s prestigious universities. When they arrived on campus, these scions of the Protestant Establishment didn’t concern themselves overly much with academics. Their main proving grounds were extracurricular activities and social life. Positioning themselves to edit the school paper or join the right secret society, they strove to establish their social worth and to prove how much they embodied the virtues of the Harvard Man, the Yale Man or the Princeton Man. That meant being effortlessly athletic, charismatic, fair, brave, modest and, above all, a leader of men.

In those days, most people who applied to schools like Harvard were admitted because people who weren’t from the right social class didn’t bother applying. But Jews, for reasons that are not clear, never got the message. They applied to Harvard, Yale and Princeton even though they weren’t really wanted. And because many were so academically qualified, they increasingly got in.

More here.