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Democratizing Elitism

MANY AMERICANS think of college—and especially the selective university—as a social leveler, offering upward mobility to anyone with talent and drive. This idea helps to justify the stark inequalities of twenty-first-century capitalism: anyone, we are told, can ascend an eversteepening social and economic hierarchy and reap the growing rewards at the top. The elite status of the selective university seems available to all.

But, of course, it isn’t. The result is that class stratification, cutthroat capitalist competition, and racial resentment collide in university admissions. Consider just the last year’s worth of news.

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