Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Crafting a Class

Crafting a Class: College Admissions and Financial Aid, 1955-1994

Elizabeth A. Duffy
Idana Goldberg
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 336
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Crafting a Class
    Book Description:

    Admissions and financial aid policies at liberal arts colleges have changed dramatically since 1955. Through the 1950s, most colleges in the United States enrolled fewer than 1000 students, nearly all of whom were white. Few colleges were truly selective in their admissions; they accepted most students who applied. In the 1960s, as the children of the baby boom reached college age and both federal and institutional financial aid programs expanded, many more students began to apply to college. For the first time, liberal arts colleges were faced with an abundance of applicants, which raised new questions. What criteria would they use to select students? How would they award financial aid? The answers to these questions were shaped by financial and educational considerations as well as by the struggles for civil rights and gender equality that swept across the nation. The colleges' answers also proved crucial to their futures, as the years since the mid-1970s have shown. When the influx of baby boom students slowed, colleges began to recruit aggressively in order to maintain their class sizes. In the past decade, financial aid has become another tool that colleges use to compete for the best students.

    By tracing the development of competitive admission and financial aid policies at a selected group of liberal arts colleges,Crafting a Classexplores how institutional decisions reflect and respond to broad demographic, economic, political, and social forces. Elizabeth Duffy and Idana Goldberg closely studied sixteen liberal arts colleges in Massachusetts and Ohio. At each college, they not only collected empirical data on admissions, enrollment, and financial aid trends, but they also examined archival materials and interviewed current and former administrators. Duffy and Goldberg have produced an authoritative and highly readable account of some of the most important changes that have taken place in American higher education during the tumultuous decades since the mid-1950s. Crafting a Classwill interest all readers who are concerned with the past and future directions of higher education in the United States.

    Originally published in 1997.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6468-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    William G. Bowen and Harold T. Shapiro

    Although today’s liberal arts college is a distinctively American contribution to contemporary higher education, its roots go back not only to Colonial America but also to the British colleges and universities of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Moreover, its formative attributes tell us much about the history of our country and the place of higher education within it. In the mid-nineteenth century, the traditional liberal arts college was typically small in scale, rural, privately controlled rather than publicly supervised, concerned with the development of character and piety no less than intellect, and rarely very comfortably off—often having struggled for...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. PART I. Enrollment, Admissions, and Quality

    • CHAPTER 1 Enrollment Pressures: Ebbs and Flows
      (pp. 3-33)

      Over the course of the 40 years which our study spans, all of our colleges grappled (more than once) with the question of what size they should be. Two counter considerations framed their discussions. On the one hand, there is a minimum enrollment level which enables a liberal arts college to function effectively. Below some size a college can’t afford to offer a reasonable variety of courses, attract distinguished faculty, or support its infrastructure. On the other hand, beyond some size an institution may lose its small-college character.

      Liberal arts colleges tend to have small endowments and high expenditures per...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Admissions Process
      (pp. 34-75)

      In a 1959 article entitled “The National Scene” Eugene Wilson, dean of admissions at Amherst, described three stages of admissions:stage 1—warm body, good check;stage 2—only the qualified; andstage 3—many called, few chosen.¹ Five years later, Noel Baker, director of admissions at Hiram, outlined a similar hierarchy: “It is the practice of mass application to college that has developed the practice ofopen admissionwhich grants admission on the basis of simple fulfillment of minimum stated requirements;selective admissionwhich amounts to not much more than the rejection of the unfit; andcompetitive admissionwhere...

    • CHAPTER 3 Student Quality
      (pp. 76-102)

      There are many aspects of a college that contribute to its overall quality, including its faculty, its facilities, its curriculum, and its student body. Although each of these factors is essential, we focus here on only the last—the quality of the student body.

      The quality of students that a liberal arts college is able to attract is of critical importance. Quality is important in and of itself, since liberal arts colleges both want and need to enroll students able to take advantage of the kinds of curricula, advising, and other programming which they offer. The quality of students also...

  8. PART II. Responses to Social Forces

    • CHAPTER 4 The Coeducation Movement
      (pp. 105-136)

      In 1955, four of the colleges in our study were men’s colleges, four were women’s, and eight were coeducational. By 1994, all were coeducational except three, which were still women’s colleges. Faced with financial, competitive, social, and educational pressures to go coed, the four men’s colleges started admitting women between 1969 and 1976. Although our women’s colleges confronted similar pressures, all initially remained single sex. In fact, the only women’s college in our study to become coed did not begin accepting men until 1987. In this chapter, we examine why the men’s and women’s schools responded so differently to the...

    • CHAPTER 5 Minority Recruitment
      (pp. 137-166)

      In 1955, most of the colleges we studied enrolled a handful, if any, minority students.¹ In the 1960s, in response to the civil rights movement and the commitment to equal access and opportunity that its supporters espoused, our colleges began to recruit black students aggressively. Despite concerted efforts, few of the colleges were able to achieve or maintain black enrollments above 6 percent. More recently, the colleges have expanded their conception of a diverse student body to include other nonwhite students, most notably Hispanic American and Asian American students. Over the decades, initiatives to increase minority enrollments have stemmed from...

  9. PART III. The Evolution of Financial Aid

    • CHAPTER 6 The Development of Need-Based Aid
      (pp. 169-204)

      In 1955, there was no federal aid program; institutions awarded modest scholarships on mostlyad hocbases, and John Monro of Harvard had just developed the needs-based formula that would become the cornerstone of financial aid allocations. By 1994, federal aid totaled more than $35 billion; our 16 institutions were spending on average $10.3 million annually on financial aid, and allocating awards had become a complex process involving teams of people and complicated statistical models. At the same time that the scope of aid increased and the financial aid machinery grew, the goals of awarding aid evolved to reflect not...

    • CHAPTER 7 The Growth of Merit Aid
      (pp. 205-227)

      In a 1995 interview, Samuel Carrier, provost of Oberlin College, rationalized the college’s introduction of merit aid, explaining, “The period that Oberlin is emerging from is a relatively short period in the history of the college; merit aid is a return to prior policies.”¹ A 1988 article by Sandra Baum and Saul Schwartz made a similar point: “The idea of using criteria other than financial need as a basis for aid is certainly not new. In 1958, when the National Defense Education Act was passed, the proponents of need-based aid were in the minority.”² Although true, Carrier’s justification and Baum...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 228-232)

    William Prentice, president of Wheaton College, delivered this prognosis in 1967. It applies not only to Wheaton in the late 1960s but also to most liberal arts colleges during at least some part of the 40 Years that our study covers In a June 1996 report in theChronicle of Higher Education,one college official pessimistically predicted: “There are 3,600 institutions and I think 1,000 are going to be out of business in 10 Years.”² While we acknowledge that financial and competitive pressures are disquieting to the majority of colleges and universities today, this prediction is practically a verbatim rendering...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 233-266)
  12. Appendix A: Survey Forms
    (pp. 267-272)
  13. Appendix B: Interviews
    (pp. 273-276)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 277-285)
  15. Index
    (pp. 286-296)