Daniel Golden, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has just come out with book called The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges–and Who Gets Left Outside the Gate. Having taught at one of those colleges, and then worked in its fundraising office, I had to read this book.
I perked up when I saw that Golden subtitled his introduction “The Tennessee Waltz.” He chose to begin by focusing on the male offspring of, respectively, Tennessee Senator Bill Frist and former Tennessee Senator and Vice-President Al Gore. Harrison Frist went to Princeton, while Albert Gore III went to Harvard.
Golden says “Both were middling students who preferred partying to homework and the company of jocks to scholars,” then goes on from there:
“Once enrolled in these premier universities, the two youths hardly distinguished themselves. Harrison may be best known at Princeton for joining a rowdy, hard-drinking social club, and both were arrested on substance abuse charges. If they appeared not to value an elite college education, it may be because they didn’t earn their admission; it was delivered to them as a birthright.”
When it comes to elite universities, Vanderbilt is the closest thing Tennessee has. It gets mentioned in the book primarily because of Chancellor Gordon Gee, who while president of Brown University, the book claims, bent over backwards to recruit the offspring of famous parents.