Monday, March 30, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Meritocracy?

by Andrew Gillen

More and more, I'm starting to see higher education playing a big role in the maintenance of an aristocracy. The deification of the Ivy League and other top schools is barely tolerable in principle (since I have yet to see credible details of their value added - scroll down for the money quote from Harvard's dean of admissions), and even less so with legacy admissions. And now the the New York Times reports that
Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions… the inevitable result is that needier students will be shifted down to the less expensive and less prestigious schools.
I do not damn all the colleges that cannot be need-blind, because realistically, it is not possible for many of them, a point made clear by Dr. Schapiro:
'You can’t say someone should be need-blind unless they have the resources to fund it... It sounds immoral to replace really talented low-income kids with less talented richer kids, but unless you’re a Williams or an Amherst, the alternative is, the quality of the education declines for everyone.'
But when a school is need aware, it needs to be loudly and publicly admitted (kudos to the schools that are upfront about this). Moreover, people should acknowledge that our system is not as meritorious as we often assume. As Kevin Carey said, "it’s not, strictly speaking, a case of screwing poor students by overcharging them. Instead, it’s a case of screwing poor students by not admitting them in the first place."

1 comment:

capeman said...

The glee of the Doc and his crew at the financial bind brought on by the collapse of the academic endowments was palpable -- probably the one silver lining they saw in the crisis of the world financial system, which after all, is a crisis of their beloved capitalism.

Now they seem to be having second thoughts. Higher education is less accessible now that the colleges have less money. DUH!