“Yale College seeks smart students from poor families. They’re out there—but hard to find.”

According to the cover of the most recent issue of Yale Alumni Magazine: “Yale College seeks smart students from poor families. They’re out there—but hard to find.”

The cover of the January/February issue of Yale Alumni Magazine is a drawing of what appears to be a man in a suit precariously standing on the top step of a ladder trying to pick a piece of fruit from a large fruit tree.  His arm is outstretched as he reaches past the “low hanging” fruit to some of the fruit higher in the tree.

The headline reads: “Reaching beyond the low-hanging fruit.”

The subtitle reads: “Yale College seeks smart students from poor families. They’re out there—but hard to find.”

Smart students from poor families… They’re out there—but hard to find?

My first reaction was, “Yale, What the?”

My second reaction was, “No, really…Yale, what the?”

The Yale Alumni Magazine cover certainly reiterates the key point in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, “Principal Steve Perry, you just don’t get it – it’s the double standard that is so offensive!

It was a post that lamented the massive growth of poverty in the United States, the resulting rise of an American underclass and sought to make an observation about the way the wealthy and elite think about “those” people.

Now we learn that Yale observes that there are, “Smart students from poor families… They’re out there—but hard to find”

The credit for shining attention on this incredible magazine cover goes to fellow blogger and author Corey Robin who posted a picture of the Yale Alumni Magazine cover and commented on it in a piece entitled ‘O Yale.”

Here is picture of the January/February issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine.

Yale cover2

 My reaction remains, “No, really…Yale, what the?”

  • buygoldandprosper

    Yale sucks.
    Everyone but alumni know it.

  • Jim Spellman

    Simple solution – Redo drawing with more realistic Migrant/Day laborer instead of Yalie picking fruit. On completion of illustration ask Migrant/Day laborer if he/she knows any smart kids who would like to go to Yale. Long recruitment list will follow.

    • jonpelto

      Good one Jim!

  • Mary Gallucci

    There were similar hand-wringing type articles when Yale was first contemplating admitting women–not that long ago!–“We’d love to have women study at Yale; we know there are smart ones out there (the kind who aren’t after a Yalie just to marry him)”… and, there has always been soul-searching about just how many Jewish students, African-American students, Latino/a students that Yale has wanted to admit to the club (the same with Princeton and the other Ivies). Fortunately, alumni privilege ensures that most new Yalies will be related to old (money) Yalies. Maybe they can just re-define what they mean by poor students: ones without a trust fund; ones who are academically challenged (like George Bush 1&2); ones without their own hedge-fund….

    I look forward to the Yale recruitment posters at the soup kitchen.

    • Mary Gallucci

      But wait a minute, how about tapping all the elite TFA as recruitment tools? Wasn’t that supposed to be the point of TFA?

    • jonpelto

      Right as always Mary!

  • Castles Burning

    so shameful. on so many levels. One can hope that a few enlightened alumns might respond with a letter to the editor.

  • speaking up

    I am a Yale Alumna, and my copy of the Yale Alumni Magazine had been sitting on my kitchen table underneath some junk mail, a Pokemon book and a Lego creature created by my son, who has been home from school (snow day) since yesterday at noon. (This is when I grabbed the mail and dropped it on the kitchen table. Things have been piled on top of it as I’ve been working from
    home and my son has been running amok in the house.)

    I also am a recent commenter here, on Wait, What. I am the
    parent of a child who was harmed by the bullying climate at Capital Prep, and I am speaking out on this site in an effort to inform other parents about what they would be “choosing” if they enrolled their child at this school. I took a break from my work this afternoon and checked in on Wait, What to read new comments posted about Capital Prep. I saw the Yale Magazine cover… read the post and then went to the kitchen to grab my copy of the magazine. I’d seen the tree but hadn’t read any of the words as I’d been rushed and felt harried to set my son up with entertaining activities and get back to work.

    Coincidences are interesting things.

    I was one of the ‘hard to find’ smart students from a poor family who applied to, was accepted at and ultimately graduated from Yale. I was, in fact, rather an extreme case – I was a 35 year-old, formerly homeless woman who had neither a High School diploma nor a GED (I still don’t have either of these things today), but who had graduated from a community college in California with a 4.0 when I transferred, as a Junior and on scholarship, to Yale. Today I also have a JD from UConn Law and I have been deeply concerned by the latest discussion here on Wait, What.

    As a white woman I do not know how it feels to walk in the
    shoes of anyone whose skin is darker than mine. As a poor, young, white woman I did know how it felt to be judged by the way that I looked – by men and by other women. As an older, white homeless woman I knew how it felt to be judged by the way that I looked – by everyone. As a white woman carrying books and other
    scholarly materials as I walked around Yale’s campus I knew how it felt to be judged – by fellow students AND by others. I saw homeless people on and around the green in downtown New Haven and I was very aware of how I was perceived by them –
    because of the way that I looked. Anyone who had taken the time to speak with me at any of these times in my life would have found that I was not what they had expected, based on the way that I looked. The vast majority of people – everywhere – do not take the time to speak to anyone who is not a member of “their”

    I am acutely, personally and viscerally aware of the burgeoning
    classism in the US. I am also very sensitive to racism, sexism, and any other –ism that I encounter. What I experienced on Capital Prep’s campus, what I’ve learned since I pulled my son out, and what I’m reading in recent Wait, What posts is very troubling to me.

    The article in the Yale Alumni Magazine points to 3 challenges in changing the socioeconomic composition of a campus, and the first one is that you need to get more low-income students to apply. As a 7th grade dropout, I was not surrounded by supports encouraging me to apply to any college, much less Yale. As an adult community college student I was not surrounded by these supports, either, but I was very fortunate to have come across one
    philosophy instructor who encouraged, badgered and pushed me to apply – to a number of Ivy League schools. My self-image had been shaped by years of being judged by the way that I looked and by the socioeconomic stratus that I had grown up in. I balked at the very idea of APPLYING to these schools; I doubted that my
    application would even make it past the first pair of gatekeeping-administrative eyes.

    I am lucky to have been born with an argumentative, rebellious streak. This is what prompted me to apply (and be accepted) to a
    handful of these schools. What I see being done to students deemed by Steve Perry to not be “a good fit” for “his” (PUBLIC!) school makes me very, very angry. In my opinion, Steve Perry’s uneducated, arrogant, callous disregard for the young children that do not look to him like successful students who will bolster the (questioned) statistical numbers of “his” school is – as a human
    being – reprehensible. In my opinion, Steve Perry’s uneducated, arrogant, callous disregard for the young children entrusted by their parents to his care is – as a principal in a public school – actionable.

    I suppose that since I am an alumni, I am not disagreeing with you, buygoldandprosper, but in my opinion, Yale does not suck. I attended Yale for 2 years and before I’d graduated and left, Yale had accepted another philosophy student from the same community college in California (recommended, encouraged and badgered by the same philosophy instructor) that I’d attended. I “handed over” my off-campus apartment to him and we both felt very amazed and proud of exactly who, what and where the two of us were.

    You’re right, too, Mary Gallucci. 1969 is NOT very long ago. Have you seen “The Women’s Table” designed by Maya Lin, on Yale’s campus? I walked on it, barefoot and kicking water on the camera, when I was filmed by a local news team when I graduated.

    My name is Valerie Klokow and I am “speaking up.”
    I support Jonathan Pelto in his effort to bring the truth about Capital Prep and its principal, Dr. Steve Perry, to light.

    • Mary Gallucci

      A very powerful story.

      I still don’t think Yale is at all serious about wanting to diversify their student body. Why is anyone expecting a private, elite institution to be moral, fair, or humane? It’s just one more example of how education in America is corporatized and commodified. Rich people pay to get away from the rest of us. And look at Yale’s impact on New Haven.

      • Mary Gallucci

        Also, that subtitle is disgusting!

        “low-hanging fruit”? What arrogance.
        I’m looking for what makes Yale students and alums think they are so smart–because most of their advantages come from their money and connections–and a lot of intensive tutoring, flattery, and the unsung inspiration of a full belly and a warm bed.

    • buygoldandprosper

      I think more highly of the California Junior College system than I do of Yale. Your success speaks to Cabrillo College’s success in growing and harvesting crops, as it were, across the whole spectrum of humanity.
      Many years ago I was informed by a person who knows the Ivies well that a Yale grad will ALWAYS let you know that he/she attended or graduated from Yale, and you know what? I did not believe, but that person was proven correct more times than not. Yale is a club with some fine scholarship on the side.
      I would rather my kids attend ANY UC campus than Yale for undergraduate work. And the JC system, thanks to Pat Brown, is one of the best local systems of education in the nation.
      You have done well for yourself, in spite of Yale.

      • Mary Gallucci

        all the Ivies are a club. There are people who use the Ivy-school email for their entire lives just in case you were unaware. Back in the good old days, a “school tie” and lunching at the Yale Club or Harvard Club would suffice. Since most of us could give a damn about ties and clubs, voila! Ivy League-themed email and other swag.

  • educationmatters

    All that education and not an ounce of common sense.

  • Arthur Getzel

    Well guess who made such students rare? The elite that this school has graduated who has run this nation all these years is the culprit. How blind are these people. You are the ones who are now NOT reeping what you have always refused to sow.

    • msavage

      Exactly! Yale and Harvard grads are running this nation into the ground. I don’t suggest that it is impossible to graduate from these institutions with empathy and the ability to function as a caring, decent person intact. But what are they teaching in the business/law schools there? Money over humanity? Prosper at any cost? Disregard for anyone not born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth?

  • mookalaboona

    I sent this to my daughter, a Yale alumna. She wrote me back just now: I just got this issue of the alumni magazine in the mail today. Even more disturbing is the juxtaposition of the front cover with the back cover, which is a full-page ad for Maserati.

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  • Yale Alum

    As a Yale alum and public school (non-TFA) teacher with friends in admissions, I feel I should probably speak up a bit here.

    I do think that Yale cares about diversity. I do think that Yale wants to improve public education. But what I don’t think is that Yale knows what it’s talking about and is unwilling to do the hard work of finding out what it needs to do.
    I was one of the last graduates from the teacher prep program prior to its closure. With President Salovey on the board of CT Council for Education Reform and the number of Yale College graduates entering into Teach For America, the message is pretty clear: teaching is a charity job, not a career. To me, this represents a fundamental unwillingness to actually attack a problem and, to instead, take action that makes the actor feel better, but doesn’t actually help solve the problem. Indeed TFA and CCER are actually making the situation worse while assuaging the guilt of the privileged.

    This seems to be the same approach when it comes student diversity. The campus looks very different and has people from many countries, but continues to have an upper-class culture of privilege. As someone who grew up middle-class (decidedly not working-class), I often felt out of place. Though I feel I received an excellent history education (that I can now pass on to my students), I had little interest in networking and even less on making money on Wall Street. Yale may be diverse on paper, the prevailing privileged and self-aggrandizing culture seemed to me to be remarkably homogenous.
    Maybe this is too harsh a criticism of an institution that I’m sure is dramatically different in 2005, when I graduated, than in 1965. The Alumni Magazine must try to appeal to both sets of alums. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Alumni Magazine is the wrong forum for this type of introspection. But I see a lot more patting oneself on the back for trying than the hard work necessary to actually address the problem.

    • Mary Gallucci

      Really? The Alumni Magazine “must try to appeal to both sets of alums”–which two sets? old and new? Certainly not rich and poor. I hardly think that an article with such a title can be “introspective.”
      How about this for a title: “Rich (white) Man’s Burden” (twenty-first-century version).

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