Harvard Student Body Hardly 'Middle-Class'
To the editors:
The notion that Harvard's tuition increase represents an assault on the middle class, as suggested by Meredith B. Osborn (Opinion, "Disappearing in the Middle," Mar. 2), doesn't hold water.
As Harvard students, extreme solipsism may lead us to believe that our fate is of crucial importance to the "middle class," broadly conceived. Simply put, it is not. Keep in mind that elite higher education affects only a miniscule number of Americans. The astronomical tuition fees of a Harvard or a Swarthmore are very different from those seen at most public colleges and universities across the country, the real seedbed of the middle class.
And does this in turn represent an injustice since elite education is the key to success? No. An Ivy League education does not give you much of an advantage a few years after graduation, unless you are working-class (not middle-class) or go into academia or high journalism, as demonstrated in a recent study conducted by Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale under the auspices of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Let's get over ourselves. Should we really be worried about the overwhelmingly white and Asian upper-middle-class kids (we used to call them rich) who have to pay full tuition? Even at the low end, these families aren't hurting, certainly not relative to those in dire need around the world. I'll save my tears for others.
Reihan M Salam '01
Mar. 2, 2001