Submitted on Friday, 2/15/2019, at 1:42 PM

Access is not inclusion, Harvard education professor Anthony Abraham Jack ’07 writes in his new book, The Privileged Poor, which examines the challenges faced by poor students entering college. He recently spoke with the Boston Globe about his research for the books, which included more than 100 interviews and two years of ethnographical observation at an unnamed elite university. In his book, he draws distinctions among disadvantaged students, rather than treating them as a monolithic group. Some poor students — whom Jack describes as the privileged poor — had mentors and experiences that taught them how to navigate a college campus and take advantage of the resources offered there. Others arrived with little knowledge of what would be expected of them.

“Lower-income students … face some real trauma in their lives. That trauma is painful, that’s a load that we have to bear, and I think a lot of students would have benefited from some kind of support services to deal with that pain,” he said. “My work, I hope, pushes people to make the path and the expectations explicit. There is a hidden curriculum that operates on these college campuses that is hard to decipher.”

“Students are not prepared for a lot of the interactions that they have with their peers and professors all day, because colleges look very different than high schools,” he added. “It’s about feeling out of place. Can you really focus on the material in front of you when you’re always looking to your left and to your right?”