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  1. #1 Cry Me A River: The Harvard disadvantage 
    The Harvard disadvantage

    Despite outreach, the needy face socioeconomic gulf

    By Tracy Jan
    Globe Staff / May 12, 2009

    He was valedictorian of his senior class, and had been accepted at all 13 colleges to which he applied. But when Miguel Garcia entered Harvard University last fall, he felt he didn't belong.

    As classmates moved into Harvard Yard that first day with parents - and in some cases, chauffeurs - driving fancy vehicles packed with boxes, Garcia arrived alone. His belongings fit into two suitcases and a backpack. His mother, a worker at an industrial laundry, and father, a janitor at a Detroit casino, could not afford the trip.

    "Everyone else seemed so polished and entitled and seamlessly adapting," Garcia recalled. "It just felt like they'd been here their whole lives. I was really intimidated. I didn't feel like I had anything in common."

    Students of modest means have attended Harvard on scholarship for decades. But with the school making an unprecedented push to recruit more of them by offering virtually free rides, the number of students from families making less than $60,000 a year has surged 30 percent over the last five years - to about one-fifth of all Harvard students.

    As it increases its outreach to such students, Harvard is doing more to help them adjust to campus life and address the disconnect that many experience on arrival, said William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, who himself was a scholarship student at Harvard.

    To make the transition easier, Harvard has quietly expanded a fund that students can tap to pay for such things as admission to dorm dances, tutoring, winter coats, even plane tickets home. Financially, at least, their four years at Harvard would appear to be worry-free, as the school covers tuition, room, and board - close to $50,000 a year. The university has nearly doubled its investment in financial aid since 2004.

    Socially, though, less-fortunate students must gingerly navigate a minefield of class chasms on a campus still brimming with legacies and wealth.

    Jim Crossen, a Harvard senior from Davenport, Iowa, recalls that he balked during freshman year when his choir required students to don tuxedos for concerts.

    "No one ever told me I was poor until I got to Harvard," Crossen said. "It was that culture of saying, 'Just wear your tux.' I don't even own a suit - still."

    Even when he discovered that the choir has money to help members in a pinch, Crossen was too embarrassed to ask. He bought a tuxedo for $80 at a bargain basement - it smelled like a basement, too - spending wages from his part-time job at the law school library.

    And while many of his classmates went hiking on Harvard-organized trips just before the start of freshman year, Crossen chose to spend the week earning $11 an hour scrubbing toilets in Harvard dorms. He later stopped buying textbooks, using the library instead to save $400 a semester.

    It can be difficult to discern the neediest students. There's no support group or club for them - many students prefer not to reveal their socioeconomic standing. The university keeps a list of them, available only to Harvard financial aid officials, to try to meet their needs throughout their undergraduate years, be it emergency money for a root canal or a loan for test-prep courses, an interview suit, or travel while studying abroad.

    (snip)

    "You can't take a kid who's lived in the ghetto for 18 years and just make them feel OK now," Garcia said. "But other people say, 'Why are you complaining? You're at Harvard. You have a full ride. And when you graduate, you'll be just like us.' "

    Instead of pretending everyone is equal, he said, the university should encourage more candid conversations about the sensitive topic of wealth and poverty. Garcia would like to see Harvard form a support network for students like himself who want the camaraderie, and establish an office to help them adjust.

    Harvard officials acknowledge there is more to be done. During orientation next fall, new students will be asked to discuss readings about class differences and privilege, said Thomas Dingman, dean of freshmen.

    "The makeup of Harvard has changed a lot, and this is something we can do to address some of the issues of socioeconomic diversity," Dingman said.

    Two weekends ago, recently admitted low- and moderate-income students gathered at the campus pub for a special reception. They drank Shirley Temples, picked up free pocket guides on how to survive Harvard on a shoestring budget, and grilled current scholarship students about their experiences.

    Rosario Santillana, a Los Angeles student, said she would not have visited Harvard if the university had not paid for her flight. "As far as money goes, Harvard spoils you," Santillana concluded.
    What is wrong with these people? You get a free ride to school plus a boatload of bennies that cover your recreational costs and it still isn't enough? Now you also want people from different backgrounds to feel bad about their own circumstances so you can feel more at home?

    Boston com
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  2. #2  
    HR Corporate Scum patriot45's Avatar
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    After reading that sob story, I don't know how I'll get thru my day.

    I love this phrase - socioeconomic diversity. Makes me throw up a little. Every one is a sissy nowadays.

    : “Grow your own dope. Plant a liberal.”
    ” Obummercare, 20 percent of the time it works everytime.
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    Senior Member samurai's Avatar
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    Many years ago, I was accepted to Harvard and I'm from a poor family. But at the time, the only benefit the school itself would offer me was to reduce the annual tuition by 20%, which meant I'd still have to come up with $20,000 per year + living expenses. I didn't want to become that deep in debt, so I attended the local California State University instead, and graduated with double honors and no debt at all. I know a CSU degree isn't worth as much as a Harvard one, but I still think I made the right choice.
    The problem in the next four years will be not just that the president of the United States serially does not tell the truth. Instead, the real crisis in our brave new relativist world will be that those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying. - Victor Davis Hanson
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurai View Post
    Many years ago, I was accepted to Harvard and I'm from a poor family. But at the time, the only benefit the school itself would offer me was to reduce the annual tuition by 20%, which meant I'd still have to come up with $20,000 per year + living expenses. I didn't want to become that deep in debt, so I attended the local California State University instead, and graduated with double honors and no debt at all. I know a CSU degree isn't worth as much as a Harvard one, but I still think I made the right choice.
    Which one?--I went to Dominguez Hills.
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    Senior Member samurai's Avatar
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    I went to CSU Chico. I grew up in Chico, very nice town.
    The problem in the next four years will be not just that the president of the United States serially does not tell the truth. Instead, the real crisis in our brave new relativist world will be that those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying. - Victor Davis Hanson
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurai View Post
    I went to CSU Chico. I grew up in Chico, very nice town.
    I had two buddies from P.V. who went there. Way back when, it was ranked #1 party school in the nation by playboy or some magazine. Is that true?

    DH was a mini-version of the giant CSU Long Beach. A commuter school with a decent baseball team.
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    An Adversary of Linda #'s
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    What is wrong with these people? You get a free ride to school plus a boatload of bennies that cover your recreational costs and it still isn't enough? Now you also want people from different backgrounds to feel bad about their own circumstances so you can feel more at home?

    Boston com
    Liberal guilt is an amazing thing ! Maybe they should open up a getto Harvard in Detroit or Harlem NY and make some feel right at home.
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    Senior Member samurai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazlnut View Post
    I had two buddies from P.V. who went there. Way back when, it was ranked #1 party school in the nation by playboy or some magazine. Is that true?

    DH was a mini-version of the giant CSU Long Beach. A commuter school with a decent baseball team.
    Yeah, it was, but only because of a drunken riot during Pioneer Days that year. In response, CSU Chico (and the city) made big changes, including permanently canceling the Pioneer days celebration, prohibiting any alcohol on campus at any time, new rules and restrictions for frats and sororities, etc. By the time I enrolled a few years later, partying was vastly toned down.

    I didn't have time for parties anyway, as I completed a double major (History and Social Science) with double honors (in both GE and my History major) in just 4 years (that when my grants ran out, so I had to finish by then). I was taking 15-18 units or more per semester, many of them honors courses. My all-nighters were writing papers, not partying, LOL!
    The problem in the next four years will be not just that the president of the United States serially does not tell the truth. Instead, the real crisis in our brave new relativist world will be that those who demonstrate that he is untruthful will themselves be accused of lying. - Victor Davis Hanson
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    Senior Betwixt Member Bubba Dawg's Avatar
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    It took four schools and seven years but I got my BA. :D

    I went part-time to night school for a long time before I was able to attend the University of North Florida and finish. I really appreciated the opportunity to go to school anywhere. I didn't feel at all deprived for not going to some ritzy private school and what small school debt I had was paid off within a year of graduation.
    Hey careful man! There's a beverage here!
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurai View Post
    Yeah, it was, but only because of a drunken riot during Pioneer Days that year. In response, CSU Chico (and the city) made big changes, including permanently canceling the Pioneer days celebration, prohibiting any alcohol on campus at any time, new rules and restrictions for frats and sororities, etc. By the time I enrolled a few years later, partying was vastly toned down.

    I didn't have time for parties anyway, as I completed a double major (History and Social Science) with double honors (in both GE and my History major) in just 4 years (that when my grants ran out, so I had to finish by then). I was taking 15-18 units or more per semester, many of them honors courses. My all-nighters were writing papers, not partying, LOL!
    That's right, Pioneer days! So, it's safe to send my son their now? (his chances at a UC get slimmer with every semester.)
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