The Trump administration will be taking aim at affirmative action programs it believes "discriminate against white applicants," reports The New York Times. But if the Justice Department blames affirmative action for the fact that it's difficult to get into a selective college, its outrage may be misplaced. Undergraduate populations at top schools are not that diverse. In fact, they are strikingly homogeneous: Largely upper-middle-class or rich.
In short, it's wealthy kids, not minorities, who are disproportionately represented at colleges, and elite institutions especially.
"At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League — Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown — more students came from the top one percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent," reports The New York Times. It also points out that, at every one of the top 65 U.S. universities, the median parent income is over $100,000. That figure ranges from $272,000 at Washington University in St. Louis to $104,900 at UCLA.
That's why Richard V. Reeves, author of the new book "Dream Hoarders" and a senior fellow in Economic Studies and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institute, tells CNBC Make It that "the affirmative action we should be most worried about is the one for legacies."
He argues that the preferences given to the children of alumni, as well as the other ways wealthier families elbow out competitors to make room for their own kids amounts to "cheating."
"About half of the students at the most selective colleges, around 480 institutions, come from the upper-middle class. The more selective the college, the greater its dominance," writes Reeves in "Dream Hoarders."