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    AUTHOR Youn, Ted I. K.; Arnold, Karen D.; Salkever, KatyaTITLE Pathways to Prominence: The Effects of Social Origins and

    Education on Career Achievements of American RhodesScholars. ASHE Annual Meeting Paper.

    PUB DATE 1999-11-00NOTE 35p.; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the

    Association for the Study of Higher Education (24th, SanAntonio, TX, November 18-21, 1999). This research waspartially funded by a 1998 Boston College Faculty Grant.

    PUB TYPE Reports Research (143) Speeches/Meeting Papers (150)EDRS PRICE MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage.DESCRIPTORS Awards; Bachelors Degrees; *Careers; Elitism; Graduate

    Study; Higher Education; *Outcomes of Education; Prestige;Private Colleges; *Professional Recognition; Quality ofWorking Life; Recognition (Achievement); *Scholarships;*Selective Colleges; Social Class; Social Stratification;Status

    IDENTIFIERS *ASHE Annual Meeting; *Rhodes Scholarships

    ABSTRACTThis study is one in a series that examines cohorts of

    American Rhodes scholars in order to determine how changing dynamics ofmerit, sponsorship, and democratization affect elite membership,socialization, occupational structures, and perceptions of leadership. Thissegment of the study examines the ways in which elite baccalaureatecredentials interact with pre-college cultural capital to shape distinctivecareer outcomes. The sample (n=220) included two cohorts of Rhodes scholarsfrom the late 1940s and the late 1960s, and the research sought to determine:(1) whether between World War II and the late 1960s Rhodes scholars hadbecome more diverse in terms of social origins; (2) whether an upper-classbackground increased the likelihood of achieving professional prominence; (3)whether attendance at a "big 3" graduate school had an independent effect oncareer prominence; (4) whether social class and educational effects on careerattainment differed for Rhodes scholars in the 1940s and 1960s; and (5) whatinteractions of social background, baccalaureate origins, and graduate schoolprestige affect career prominence. The study concluded that factors outsideof formal education and social background account for the majority of thevariation in the career pathways of Rhodes scholars chosen for eminence.(Contains 40 references.) (CH)

    Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be madefrom the original document.

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    Pathways to Prominence:

    The Effects of Social Origins and Education

    on Career Achievements of American Rhodes Scholars


    Ted I.K. Youn, Karen D Arnold, and Katya Salkever

    Boston College



    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONOffice of Educational Research and Improvement


    % This document has been reproduced asreceived from the person or organizationoriginating it.

    Minor changes have been made toimprove reproduction quality.

    Points of view or opinions stated in thisdocument do not necessarily representofficial OERI position or policy. 1



    V. Vaughn


  • ASH*Associationfor the Studyof HigherEducation

    Headquartered at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Education Department of EducationalLeadership and Policy Analysis 211 Hill Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 573-882-9645 fax 573-884-5714

    This paper was presented at the annual meetingof the Association for the Study of HigherEducation held in San Antonio, Texas, November18-21, 1999. This paper was reviewed by ASHEand was judged to be of high quality and ofinterest to others concerned with highereducation. It has therefore been selected to beincluded in the ERIC collection of ASHEconference papers.

  • Pathways to Prominence:

    The Effects of Social Origins and Education

    on Career Achievements of American Rhodes Scholars


    Ted I.K. Youn, Karen D Arnold, and Katya Salkever

    Boston College

    Presented at the Annual Meeting of the

    Association for the Study of Higher Education

    November 1999

    Direct all comments to Ted I. K. Youn or Karen D. Arnold, School of Education, BostonCollege, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167. This paper is a fully collaborative effort by theauthors. This research extends .a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Associationfor the Study of Higher Education in November 1998. We would like to acknowledgehelpful comments made by Patricia McDonough and Janet Z. Giele on our earlierversion. This research was partially funded by a 1998 Boston College Faculty Grant.

  • Introduction

    What determines the allocation of status and privilege in contemporary societies?

    What role do educational institutions play in supplying the society with elites? Little is

    known about higher education's role in shaping American society through choosing,

    socializing and legitimating national leaders. Over the past fifty years, the expansion of

    higher education, the civil rights and women's movements, and American ideology have

    all moved in the direction of promoting social equality. The impetus for democratization

    has led to widening participation by women and ethnic minorities among leadership

    groups (Alba & Moore, 1982; Jamieson, 1995; Zweigenhaft & Domhoff, 1998). The

    appearance of diversity is paradoxical, however. For example, upper class cultural

    capital still matters profoundly in elite membership. Nearly all top national leaders

    continue to be wealthy white Christian males from the upper third of the social ladder

    (Zweigenhaft & Domhoff, 1998). The diversity forced upon the traditional power elite

    from external pressures may actually have helped to strengthen it by giving the elite

    "buffers, ambassadors, tokens, and legitimacy" (Zweigenhaft & Domhoff, 1998, p. 191).

    Furthermore, a handful of highly prestigious universities in American higher education

    continue to produce the majority of our nation's leaders (Youn, Arnold, & Salkever,

    1998; Useem & Karabel, 1986).

    Are American elites from increasingly diverse social and educational

    backgrounds? Are educational pathways to prominence becoming broader and more

    numerous? Cultural and historical perspectives are needed to trace the role of higher

    education in generating social elites. This paper reports fmdings from the first phase of a

    project on the higher education and careers of American Rhodes Scholars. Based on


  • biographical analysis of 2 cohorts of Rhodes Scholars from the 1940s and the 1960s, the

    paper focuses on the relationship of social origins, baccalaureate origins, and career

    attainment of elites in different historical eras.

    The Role of Higher Education Institutions in Generating Leaders

    Social science research in social stratification points to a well-established

    proposition: educational attainment has a substantial effect on career success (Becker,

    1964; Blau & Duncan 1967; Sewell & Hauser 1975). Distinctive college character,

    family and educationally-conferred cultural capital, and cumulative advantage through

    prestigious credentials are theorized to account for the relationship between educational

    background and social stratification.

    A series of studies have investigated the relationship between undergraduate

    institutions and graduates' occupational success. Research has demonstrated the

    importance of higher education institutions' general organizational character, especially

    distinctive character, on the-development of individuals and their likelihood of

    exceptional career achievements (Clark, 1970; Fuller, 1986; Knapp & Goodrich, 1952;

    Knapp & Greenbaum 1953; Tidball, 1986; Tidball & Kistiakowsky, 1976; Wolf-Wendel,

    1998). Taken together, these studies support the effectiveness of liberal arts colleges and

    women's colleges in producing prominent graduates.

    Along with distinctive socialization within certain colleges, the advantages

    conferred by prestigious baccalaureate credentials relate to the role of particular

    institutions in the greater society. All socializing organizations recognize the importance

    of the relationship with their social setting. One major effect of educational institutions

    as socializing organizations is the symbolic redefinition of graduates as possessing



  • special qualities and skills associated with attendance. Colleges and universities vary in

    the kinds of individuals they are expected to produce and in the kinds of changes in

    individuals that they can legitimately expect to affect. This social characterization occurs

    independently of whether or not actual changes in competency have occurred among

    students. The redefinition of the products of an organization, a validating process

    granted by societal constituents, is referred to as organizational "chartering" (Kamens,

    1974; Meyer, 1970).

    Like the idea of institutional charters, screening theories dispute the existence of

    direct relationships between schooling, and labor market success (Berg, 1971; Chiswick,

    1974; Taubman & Wales, 1972). Screening and credential theories argue that schooling

    itself is not productive in labor markets but that it simply sorts individuals by family

    origins, affective behavior, or ability. The main function of schooling is screening, with

    employers more likely to prefer graduates of highly selective colleges and universities.

    Given the tenuous connections betw


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