Today, higher education is a major force in promoting social mobility, yet colleges and universities seem more concerned with prestige than finding ways to make higher learning more accessible. Rewarding Strivers outlines two high-profile models that colleges and universities can follow in making the American Dream a realistic one for all students.

Former New York Times education writer Edward B. Fiske (author of The Fiske Guide to Colleges) explores an exciting new effort to provide extra financial aid and academic support to low-income students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He finds that the “Carolina Covenant” has much to teach public and private universities across the country.

In order to benefit from financial aid and support, low-income students first must be admitted to college. In a chapter that is likely to prove highly controversial, Georgetown University’s Anthony Carnevale and Jeff Strohl articulate a coherent and concrete way for colleges and universities to provide a leg up to economically disadvantaged students in selective college admissions. The authors make an important contribution to the nation’s raging debate over affirmative action by calling on universities to expand preferences beyond race to also include socioeconomic status, and outlining how such a program could work in practice.