At 26, Melvin Wilson, an African-American from Youngstown, Ohio, finds himself still $37,000 in debt after having graduated from Cleveland State University in 2009. Sharing his perspective in a recent Apollo/Next America poll about educational attainment and diversity, he agrees that post-college success is rooted in personal responsibility, but he also acknowledges frustrations.
"When you work hard for what you want and you finally get it, it's a great feeling of accomplishment," the freelance writer says. "But we do live in a society where if you have connections, you get to go to Harvard"¦. You don't have to work to go to Harvard if you're a Bush or an Obama. This trickle-down crap they talk about is not working. And there's the "˜haves' and the "˜have-nots,' and the "˜have-nots' — excuse my language — have to bust their ass to get where they want to go."
Wilson's comments show an opinion perhaps familiar to students who might have welcomed the chance to study at the Ivy League schools, which traditionally provides a leg up on starting a career. And for students of color, the road covered with ivy is not easy.
Generally, blacks and Latinos benefit from attending elite institutions more because of the networking opportunities than because of receiving a strong education, a Princeton working paper determined. To be certain, minorities do gain admittance to the elite eight, and only Yale University has a student population that is more than 50 percent white.