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Who Succeeds and Why

Posted: 03.19.15

Author Karl Alexander holds a copy of his book 'The Long Shadow' before speaking at a Central Scholarship Board meeting
We were honored to have Dr. Karl Alexander speak with Central Scholarship at this morning’s Board of Directors meeting. Dr. Alexander is an author of The Long Shadow, Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth and the Transition to Adulthood and a retired professor and former chair of the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.  In a groundbreaking study, Johns Hopkins University researchers followed nearly 800 Baltimore schoolchildren for a quarter of a century, and discovered that their fates were substantially determined by the family they were born into.  “A family’s resources and the doors they open cast a long shadow over children’s life trajectories,” Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Alexander says in The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood. “This view is at odds with the popular ethos that we are makers of our own fortune.” (Johns Hopkins Hub)
Book cover - The Long Shadow, authored by Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson
This morning, Dr. Alexander explained that students from a middle-class or affluent background were 10 times more likely to attain a four year degree than poor students.  The Long Shadow, authored by Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson, presents groundbreaking research conducted over the course of 25 years that has made front-page news everywhere from CNN to the Baltimore Sun. Central Scholarship seeks to help low-income students afford higher education and Dr. Alexander’s research presents a tangible need in poor communities and opportunities for intervention in student lives. The book is available for purchase through The Russell Sage Foundation and Amazon.