Here's part of their explanation of their list of "most affordable" colleges:
Their list of "affordable" colleges is heavy on public institutions, led by the much maligned California university system.
Now the New York Time's wonk department, the Upshot, has offered a competing list of colleges that achieve some economic diversity by enrolling a significant number of poor and middle class students. They explain the problem and their methodology:
The Upshot's list consists mostly of private colleges like Vassar, Amherst, Pomona and Grinnell in Iowa. These institutions have demonstrated that by actively recruiting, encouraging, and committing resources to diverse populations, they can enroll and graduate significant numbers of low income students.
Apparently the contrast between the two lists -- big, public in the Monthly; small, private in the Times -- derives from the Times' criteria that 75 percent of students graduate in a mere four years; these days most students everywhere take longer than what used to be the norm; only 100 schools nationwide meet that measure, pretty much all private.
If, like me, you think higher education should be available to any young person who can absorb this peculiar experience, both lists are interesting.
During the last few days on the bookapalooza, we have driven through college towns -- Burlington, Hanover, Manchester, Amherst, Northampton -- where crowds of young people are returning to dorms and classes. I kept thinking of Sotomayor's encounters with the Ivies from her Nuyorican upbringing.
Harvard and Cambridge decidedly didn't take; her admission interview was devastating and hilarious in retrospect:
Fortunately for us all, Princeton didn't have that effect on the young Sotomayor. But that didn't mean that she didn't encounter enormous cultural barriers.
There's much more. I suspect these sorts of economic and cultural disjunctions are no less frequent today. (Interestingly, Princeton now is explicitly called out by the Times for not using its economic resources to encourage low-income students.) First generation college students will have much to overcome as the excitement of beginning turns into the long struggle toward graduation - and even some learning.