Degrees With Distinction: An Examination of Student Life at Harvard College
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Hampton, Jonathan Dunn
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CitationHampton, Jonathan Dunn. 2020. Degrees With Distinction: An Examination of Student Life at Harvard College. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn recent years, it has become extremely difficult to get into an elite college. While hundreds of thousands of students annually vie to get into these highly selective schools, little is known about how they think going to an elite university will shape their professional trajectories and life outcomes. In this dissertation, I seek to remedy this gap by examining what attracts high-achieving students to an elite university, what students experience once they arrive on campus, and how they hope to leverage their elite credentials as they strive to achieve professional success. I do so by documenting the experiences of 29 students at Harvard University, a highly selective American college, throughout various moments across their time in college. I find that the organizational and cultural features of Harvard play an integral role in shaping students’ educational experiences. During their time in college, students learn to develop a strong sense of agency, drive, and privilege that shapes their perspectives of the world and their position within it. I argue that these traits that students come to embody while at Harvard are the true benefits of an elite college education, and that they ultimately shape the trajectories of these high-achieving students once after they leave campus.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364530