Skip to main content
Harvard University Press - home

The Privileged Poor

How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students

Anthony Abraham Jack

ISBN 9780674239647

Publication date: 03/01/2019

An NPR Favorite Book of the Year

“Breaks new ground on social and educational questions of great import.”
Washington Post

“An essential work, humane and candid, that challenges and expands our understanding of the lives of contemporary college students.”
—Paul Tough, author of Helping Children Succeed

“Eye-opening…Brings home the pain and reality of on-campus poverty and puts the blame squarely on elite institutions.”
Washington Post

“Jack’s investigation redirects attention from the matter of access to the matter of inclusion…His book challenges universities to support the diversity they indulge in advertising.”
New Yorker

The Ivy League looks different than it used to. College presidents and deans of admission have opened their doors—and their coffers—to support a more diverse student body. But is it enough just to admit these students? In this bracing exposé, Anthony Jack shows that many students’ struggles continue long after they’ve settled in their dorms. Admission, they quickly learn, is not the same as acceptance. This powerfully argued book documents how university policies and campus culture can exacerbate preexisting inequalities and reveals why some students are harder hit than others.


  • 2019, Joint winner of the AESA 2019 Critics' Choice Book Award
  • 2020, Joint winner of the Mirra Komarovsky Book Award
  • 2019, Winner of the CEP Mildred García Award for Exemplary Scholarship
  • 2020, Winner of the Michael Harrington Award
  • 2018, Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Prize


  • Anthony Abraham Jack is the Inaugural Faculty Director of the Newbury Center and Associate Professor of Higher Education Leadership at Boston University. He has written for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and his research has been featured on The Open Mind, All Things Considered, and CNN. The Privileged Poor was named an NPR Books Best Book of 2019.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press