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Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist from University of Michigan, and Laura Hamilton, a professor from University of California, Merced are the authors of "Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality."

A common notion of college is that it’s a great equalizer—anyone who works hard and applies themselves can achieve a better life.

But Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist from University of Michigan, and Laura Hamilton, a professor from University of California, Merced present a different reality in Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality (Harvard University Press, 2013). The authors say that, on today’s campuses, success depends as much on where you’re from and who you know as it does on academic ability.

Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, says he has created "the most selective undergraduate class in the history of American higher education.”

What if you could create a new kind of university? What would it be like?

For Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, it would combine a redefined student body, a reinvented curriculum, rigorous academic standards, cutting-edge technology and an immersive global experience. Nelson launched Minerva in 2011 to provide an Ivy League-like education at a fraction of the cost.

Sociology professor Howard L. Nixon is the author of "The Athletic Trap: How College Sports Corrupted the Academy"

College sports has long had its share of scandals, including rape charges against players and coaches, illegal payments to athletes, academic fraud and point shaving, to name a few.

Laurie Glimcher, the first female dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, received the 2014 North American recipient of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award.

A March report commissioned by the cosmetics company L’Oréal focused on the disproportionate role of women in science. In a nation that prides itself on scientific achievement, the report reveals, less than a third of women actually enter the field, and even fewer graduate and go on to careers.

Kristen Lombardi was lead journalist on the report, "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.”

In January, President Obama launched the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to help colleges and universities combat what he called “the prevalence of rape and sexual assault at our nation’s institutions of higher education.” The announcement came as a growing number of young women have filed federal complaints against colleges around the country over the mishandling of sexual assault cases.

University of Southern California Rossier School of Education Professor Adrianna Kezar, co-director of the Pullias Center on Higher Education, studies the use of adjunct professors.

Adjunct faculty have long played a supporting role in higher education. These often overqualified professors work long hours for comparatively little pay, on the hope that it might lead to a full-time position. But somewhere along the way, the situation changed.

Leon Botstein says of college admissions: “It’s not an objective process. It’s completely subjective.”

Bard College in New York made news last fall when President Leon Botstein announced that prospective students would no longer be required to submit their grades, SAT or ACT scores, teacher recommendations or the typical personal essay. Instead they will now be able to apply to Bard by writing four analytic papers—10,000 words total—chosen from a variety of weighty, thought-provoking topics.

Shirley Reed is the founding president of South Texas College.

As the founding president of South Texas College, Shirley Reed has had her share of challenges in an area of high poverty with many families, recently immigrated from Mexico, who might only dream of sending a child to college.

Since 1993, Reed and STC have made tremendous inroads on changing that.“The students I see are all motivated, hungry for a better life. More than 70 percent of our students are the first in their families to attend college, meaning they don’t know exactly how to attend college at first, but they know it’s the path to a better future,” she says.

William G. Bowen is the founding chairman of ITHAKA, a nonprofit organization focused on technology.

William G. Bowen is a name familiar to anyone who works in higher education today. Bowen was president of Princeton University from 1972 to 1988, and president emeritus of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, where he served for nearly 20 years.

Open any newspaper these days and you’ll see variations on the same critiques of higher education we’ve heard for years: spiraling costs, unequal access, ineffective teaching, and so on. And you’ll hear politicians demand greater accountability, while they threaten greater funding cuts. Yet little ever changes.

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