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Taming the River:
Negotiating the Academic, Financial, and Social Currents in Selective Colleges and Universities
Camille Z. Charles, Mary J. Fischer, Margarita A. Mooney & Douglas S. Massey

Paperback | 2016 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691171142
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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Building on their important findings in The Source of the River, the authors now probe even more deeply into minority underachievement at the college level. Taming the River examines the academic and social dynamics of different ethnic groups during the first two years of college. Focusing on racial differences in academic performance, the book identifies the causes of students' divergent grades and levels of personal satisfaction with their institutions.

Using survey data collected from twenty-eight selective colleges and universities, Taming the River considers all facets of student life, including who students date, what fields they major in, which sports they play, and how they perceive their own social and economic backgrounds. The book explores how black and Latino students experience pressures stemming from campus racial climate and "stereotype threat"--when students underperform because of anxieties tied to existing negative stereotypes. Describing the relationship between grade performance and stereotype threat, the book shows how this link is reinforced by institutional practices of affirmative action. The authors also indicate that when certain variables are controlled, minority students earn the same grades, express the same college satisfaction, and remain in school at the same rates as white students.

A powerful look at how educational policies unfold in America's universities, Taming the River sheds light on the social and racial factors influencing student success.

Camille Z. Charles is the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Social Sciences, and professor of sociology, education, and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Mary J. Fischer is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut. Margarita A. Mooney is assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Douglas S. Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University.


"An insightful study of scholastic performance and ethnicity on US campuses. . . . The increasing relative underperformance of US higher education, and especially the variations in academic achievement and persistence between students from different ethnic and socio-economic groups, has recently spawned a plethora of scholarly studies. This book is one of the most important."--Roger Brown, Times Higher Education

"Fascinating and important for anyone who cares about managing diversity in higher education."--Stanley Katz, Teachers College Record

"Taming the River provides pivotal insights into the experiences of students based on racial differences at elite institutions. Despite its heavy emphasis on quantitative findings, readers can easily understand the data presented in this book. The authors' depiction of the challenges that many students, especially Black and Latino students, face while navigating the first two years of their higher education experience will hopefully inspire readers to develop educational programs to assist these students during this critical phase."--Jennifer S. Cortes, Review of Higher Education

"Taming the River is a well written and compelling read that uses sound research and analysis based in strong foundations of sociology and social psychology. The book clearly stimulates thought about institutional, state, and federal policies."--Noah D. Drezner, Journal of College Student Retention


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Table of Contents:

List of Tables and Figures vii
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1: Entering the Current 1
Chapter 2: Staying Afloat Academically 22
Chapter 3: Staying Afloat Socially 71
Chapter 4: Staying Afloat Financially 99
Chapter 5: Battling Social Undercurrents 119
Chapter 6: The Hidden Rocks of Segregation 150
Chapter 7: The Shoals of Stereotypes 173
Chapter 8: The Wake from Affirmative Action 188
Chapter 9: College at Midstream 205
Appendix A: Questionnaire Used in Spring of Freshman Year 235
Appendix B: Questionnaire Used in Spring of Sophomore Year 252
Appendix C: Construction of Social Scales 273
References 279
Index 295

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Douglas S. Massey:

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Camille Z. Charles:

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Mary J. Fischer:


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