Policy Practicum: Social Mobility In Higher Education


Course Code:
LAW 413G
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


The Mobility Project will explore ways to increase the representation at elite universities of high achieving students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Economically disadvantaged students are underrepresented at most selective colleges or universities. This despite the fact that in recent years a number of prominent universities (Stanford among them) have made their financial aid policies considerably more generous for students from lower income families.nRecent research indicates that the pool of resource disadvantaged, high achieving high school students is much larger than commonly thought. Each year, there are more than 25,000 high school seniors from relatively low income families whose standardized test scores and grades place them in the top 4% of high school students, making it likely that they could be admitted to, receive financial aid from, and thrive at a selective institution. Yet many thousands of these talented students do not apply to any top tier college. Some do not even apply to any four year school. nThis failure in the matching of students to schools is socially significant. While higher education has long been a means of promoting mobility for individuals and across generations, the economic benefits of advanced education are even greater now than in past eras. Thus, it has become especially important that universities provide an avenue of advancement for talented students of all backgrounds.nThe Mobility Project is also timely given the likelihood of increasing restrictions on race-based affirmative action. Expanding access to elite colleges for economically disadvantaged students will also contribute to the racial diversity of those institutions. The group of low income, high achievers is more racially diverse (and more specifically, has a higher representation of African Americans and Latinos) than the group of high achieving students from affluent families.nWe will examine a variety of initiatives to increase the enrollment at elite universities of high achieving economically disadvantaged students. We hope to assemble a small interdisciplinary team of faculty and students from the Schools of Law, Education, and Humanities and Sciences to explore scalable interventions. Students have the option to write papers for Research credit with instructor approval. After the term begins, students accepted into the course can transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor. Elements used in grading: Class Participation, Attendance, Written Assignments, Final Paper. Consent Application: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors at rbanks@law.stanford.edu and pbrest@law.stanford.edu. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline.

Back to the Top