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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Focus on who gets out of poverty, not who gets into Harvard

Obsessing over who gets into elite colleges and universities is an odd preoccupation for progressives, argues Francisco Toro on Persuasion. They're supposed to care about the "masses," not fight for admission to the ruling class.


If you look at 1,000 high school graduates, 380, "overwhelmingly poorer and disproportionately black, Latino, and male," will go directly to the workforce, he writes. Another 190 will enroll in a two-year college, but only 55 of them will complete a two-year degree or any other credential within six years. Most of these young people, who make up more than half our starting 1,000, will struggle to earn a living.


Another 430 will enroll in a four-year college or university: A majority will go to one that admits most or all applicants, Toro writes. The elite universities, the ones that lead to elite jobs and entry in the ruling class, enroll about 18 students, according to Pew.


"The people who run the elite media, advocacy, and educational institutions that dominate civil discourse are overwhelmingly graduates of highly selective colleges themselves," and care very deeply about who gets in, writes Toro. "Highly selective universities are on average much more likely to use racial preferences in admissions."


However, the Supreme Court’s decision to ban racial preferences in college admissions is about the future of only 18 of those 1,000 graduates. It affects "a minuscule group of black and Latino high achievers," writes Toro. Without that boost, they may have to go to a somewhat less selective university.


If U.S. society was less unequal -- if it was easier for the graduates of state universities to compete for tob jobs -- the fight over college admissions would be less brutal, he concludes. He lives in Montreal, where bright students prefer McGill to less-prestigious Concordia -- but don't think it's a life-changing difference. "A Concordia degree doesn’t rule you out of elite jobs, nor does a McGill degree guarantee access to the best ones."

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7 Comments


Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Jul 27, 2023

In better governed states and regions, like greater Montreal or Switzerland, about 690 of a birth cohort of 1 000 is guided into vocational & professional education & training, and can still progress to preside over the government of the state, since their nations are not dominated by secular Puritans who see themselves as the successors of God's elect, bound for heavens because of their own merit -- which narrative should now be in question thanks to the data that the discovery portion of the Students For Fair Admissions case exposed, which imply the propriety of post-graduation testing of all the frauds who were unfairly admitted to such university colleges over the last 50 years or so.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Jul 29, 2023
Replying to

You do not know my intent, nor are you qualified, from this little exchange, to assess my understanding of the issues; and I am not particularly interested in the GRE, nor Harvard grads, so your reading there is as defective as your first written comment.


Most bachelor's degree holders move into the workplace, rather than graduate school, and I am supporting the testing of such grads by employers, since they can no longer assume that their general education, prior to undergrad admission, has produced competence in reading and mathematics, which were the minimum competencies expected prior to the affirmative action that has obviously degraded the reliability of bachelor's degree certification in the United States.

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Guest
Jul 26, 2023

The problem with elite universities is that society operates as if the dumbest student at Harvard is still smarter than the smartest student at Georgetown but that the dumbest student at Georgetown is still smarter than the smartest student at Boston University. Thus, the rat race to get to the top and/or stay at the stop (legacy admissions).

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Guest
Jul 26, 2023

Being a "ring-knocker" (jargon for military academy grads) has cronyism value. In the military, it is in contrast to ROTC or OCS officers. It seems to be in effect for the elite status universities.


“The principle value of holding a Harvard degree is never again having to be being impressed by a Harvard degree”--Thomas Sowell

The status universities do fulfill the need for places in the bureaucracy that keep families well off:

I’m not saying that for an individual, education is useless: it builds helpful credentials for one’s own career–but such effect washes out at the country level. Education stabilizes the income of families across generations. A merchant makes money, then his children go to the Sorbonne, they become doctors…

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