From an article by Robin J. Hayes, in the Atlantic Monthly, on why Ivy League schools struggle at promoting economic diversity on campus:
Like most elite universities, Yale has a very specific view of what that means: high GPAs in “demanding” high schools and extraordinary character-defining extra-curricular activities. By the time I applied to Yale, I had been groomed as a scholarship student in majority-affluent feeder schools to succeed in conditions that guaranteed healthy GPAs. My attentive teachers in small classes delivered a curriculum that emphasized critical thinking skills, leadership capacity, and participation in mainstream institutions. Athletics and creative activities, studying in well-resourced libraries, and sessions with a seasoned well-connected college counselor were all required of me. Unsurprisingly, these nurturing environments allowed me to gain the credentials elite universities require. By society and the job market, I continue to be seen as a “high-achiever” in essence because I was never set up to fail.
It's not a small thing that elite colleges now want to diversify their student bodies, especially when you consider the history of these institutions. The bottom line is that few individuals arrive at an elite college without having at least some exposure to elite-like education. This is precisely Hayes's point. The poor have little to no opportunities in this regard, and that's why places like Yale--and Grinnell College, too, I should say--find their economic diversity efforts hamstrung. Seems to me that raising this issue would lead to more honest conversations about diversity, more generally, in higher education and beyond.
(h/t Anya Vanecek)