Preps at Play and in the Power Structure
IF the sociologist Randall Collins is correct in his assertion that class position is best defined by shared behaviors and "repetitive encounters" ( 1975, 53), then prep school graduates may not all be upper class, but they are in a class by themselves. For public high-school or even private day school graduates the amount of time prep school graduates devote to "staying in touch"--swapping life histories, attending alumni parties and gatherings, and writing checks for their school would seem extraordinary. Loyalty, most heads and development officers believe, is most clearly expressed in contributions, and while hard work and moral support are appreciated, the bottom line is the large contributions that are expected of former students.
In a real sense prep school graduates own their schools. It is not unusual, for example, for the alumni and wealthy friends of an elite school to give annual gifts in excess of $1 million ( Cookson 1982). Schools keep close tabs on who's giving what and name names in their financial reports. Classes compete as to how much they give and what percentage of the graduates contributed. Endowments can be impressive; as of 1982, Andover's endowment was over $82 million, St. Paul's was over $61 million, and Hotch