Nor does all this money go to enhance opportunities for the non-elites. Ivy League admissions are mostly tilted toward the upper-middle class and the wealthy. As Ross Douthat wrote in The New York Times, there is “a truth that everyone who’s come up through Ivy League culture knows intuitively — that elite universities are about connecting more than learning, that the social world matters far more than the classroom to undergraduates, and that rather than an escalator elevating the best and brightest from every walk of life, the meritocracy as we know it mostly works to perpetuate the existing upper class.”
Nor does the problem end there. Once you’re out of college, your chances of making it to the top are much, much greater if you’re an Ivy League graduate. Take the Obama administration. A National Journal survey of 250 top decision-makers found that 40% of them were Ivy League graduates. Only a quarter had earned graduate degrees from a public university. In fact, more Obama administration officials had degrees from England’s Oxford University than from any American public university. Worse yet, more than 60 of them — roughly a fourth — had attended a single Ivy League school, Harvard.
If all of this were making America a better place, maybe the elitism would be justified. But a quick survey of the headlines suggests that while we might be governed by the best credentialed, we’re not being governed by the brightest and most competent.