Struggles and Successes at Age 30Elizabeth Aries
In 2005, Elizabeth Aries chronicled what 58 Amherst College freshman—Black and white, affluent and lower-income—learned from racial and class diversity. Her study emphasized the value of campus diversity at elite colleges. Four years later, Aries interviewed the same students about their diversity experiences as they graduated. Now, eight years later , she re-interviews her participants to see how and to what extent race and class continue to play a role as they move into adulthood.
The Impact of College Diversity details how exposure to diversity in college helped shape Black and white graduates to process issues of economic and racial privilege and inequality at age 30. She investigates how college diversity experiences also facilitate the attainment of upward social mobility in lower-income students and the role that mobility played in their relationships with family and friends in their home communities. Aries further examines how interactions with peers of another race and class influenced development of citizenship skills and civic engagement, as well as Black students’ ability to cope with the challenges they faced in the professional world.
Aries concludes her study with a discussion of why elite colleges have been beneficial in promoting upward mobility in lower-income students, and the importance of achieving equity and inclusion in making diversity initiatives successful.
"Aries builds on her decades-long commitment to the undergraduate experience to further understand college students’ experiences with race and class diversity within elite institutions. Using a unique, longitudinal research design that draws on students’ rich accounts of their lives at Amherst College and in the years after graduation, Aries argues that elite institutions can serve as engines of social mobility and indeed have the obligation to do so. The Impact of College Diversity is a testament to the role that diversity and inclusion can play in deepening our understanding of self and other, promoting social mobility, and even enhancing productivity and innovation within society as a whole.”
— Jenny Stuber, Professor of Sociology at the University of North Florida, and author of Inside the College Gates: How Class and Culture Matter in Higher Education
“The Impact of College Diversity provides in-depth insights into how college students’ experiences with social class and racial diversity shape their perspectives and lives well after graduation. Interviews with dozens of graduates who hold divergent identities also illustrate how college experiences and long-term outcomes sometimes vary based on these young adults’ race, their socioeconomic upbringing, their current socioeconomic status, and the intersections among these. This book will prove useful for readers who care about diversity and equity in higher education.”
—Nicholas A. Bowman, Mary Louise Petersen Chair in Higher Education at the University of Iowa
"(T)imely in its presentation of research on the importance of affirmative action.... Aries’ book is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding the educational trajectories of students who must navigate class and/or race in universities and beyond."