University of Texas at Austin

Rethinking college admissions to serve all segments of society

Rethinking college admissions to serve all segments of society

High school scholars have two paths to Harvard University. They can study hard, demonstrate leadership and earn their way in. Or they can claim birthright privileges and move to the front of the line.

The merit-based approach seems more American but comes with long odds. Elite colleges pride themselves on blocking as many qualified applicants as possible, and ranking systems create perverse incentives that reward exclusivity.

Harvard rejected 19 out of every 20 applicants for the class of 2021, and many who got in leaned on family connections and the ability of their parents to make big donations. A perfect SAT score combined with a varsity letter and participation in...

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