Ashley Hong, Sociology (Honors)

Read All About It: Raced and classed news representation of the college admissions process

Through comments, likes, and –of course– the contents of new articles themselves, media has the unique power of mobilizing opinion as fact. Specifically regarding the college admissions process, media attempts to demystify this barrier by shedding light on what qualifications institutions look for in prospective students and, thus, the kinds of activities students and families should be compelled to participate in (Althusser 1970). Informed by the works of W.E.B. Du Bois, Pierre Bourdieu, and Annette Lareau, this thesis explores the ways in which media affirms raced and classed forms of social and cultural capital. To probe at public perceptions of this process, I utilized a multimodal approach: semi-structured interviews with high school counselors and college admissions officers, discourse analysis of New York Times articles from 2010-2015, and statistical analysis of emerging themes from these articles. Overall, the ways in which media over-emphasizes class while tokenizing race has real consequences for how working class and black students understand their positionality and how the college admissions process is affirmed as a barrier that maintains systemic inequality.