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Tyler Cowen

Harvard’s Legacies Are Nothing to Be Proud Of

The university’s admissions practices are not, in fact, designed to accept the best people.

The scene, at least, is idyllic.

The scene, at least, is idyllic.

Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

America has long fancied itself a meritocracy, and American universities have a reputation as the world’s best. Both of these premises are now under serious doubt.

A recent study of Harvard’s admissions practices leaves me with the queasy feeling that America’s top schools are bastions of self-replicating privilege, far worse than what most people think. The study draws upon the data generated by the lawsuit against Harvard alleging that it discriminates against Asian-American applicants.