Leveling the Playing Field examines the admissions policies of contemporary American colleges and universities in light of the assumption that enhancing the educational opportunities of lower-income and minority students would make American society more just. It asks how current admissions policies affect the prospects of such students, and it evaluates alternative approaches. The book treats a variety of topics relevant to answering these questions. What does it mean to reward people according to merit? Is the American system of higher education a meritocracy, and should it be? How do the missions of contemporary institutions of higher education bear on admissions? What are the implications of the Supreme Court's landmark affirmative action decisions of 2003? What is the proper role and significance of standardized tests like the SAT? How does 'lower' education prepare students, or fail to, for higher education? In answering these questions, the book examines legacy preference, early admissions policies, financial aid, the test-prep industry, college counseling, and athletics, evaluating their effects on the distribution of higher education in the United States, not only for lower-income and minority students but for college-bound students in general.