Meritocracy and Higher Education

Meritocracy is what every college is ideally expected to be. However, research has shown the opposite. But why? Higher education is progressively becoming institutions meant for the rich and for the privileged. In dire economic times and a demanding work force, many students are flocking to college to obtain a higher degree in order to secure  a better life, but students are beginning to see that it is impossible because college tuitions have risen at an alarmingly high rate. This leaves only the elite students are can afford these insanely high rates to go to college and become successful while lower to middle class students and families are left to figure out another way to become successful. Higher education cannot be meritocratic because students with have affluent backgrounds will triumph because they have the social connections and money to get them to higher and more successful places. Students who try and fail to come out of college successful is usually due to the fact that they are unable to pay back their huge burden of loans they carried throughout college.

After reading the article Creating Degrees of Inequality by Suzanne Mettler, I’ve realized how relatable and frightening this article is. Taylor, a privileged girl, who is both intelligent and “well-off” is able to attend dental school and afford it easily because her parents are able to help her pay for it; however, Emma is not able to get into dental school and has, in a sense, wasted her college education and thousands of dollars. These girls started college with almost the same qualifications, except there was one factor that set them apart—wealth. Taylor comes from a wealthy background, which is able to push her forward in her career and success whereas Emma is held back due to her burdensome loans. I’m also aware of the GPA difference between these two women, and I believe that it is a major component that set them apart as well. Graduate schools are overly competitive and intelligence does play a huge role in determine who will get in, but I believe that Taylor has a better chance due to her background. With her type of background, she can get tutoring, connections with admission officers, and land better internships because she has the money to afford it all. The sad reality is that college will only continue to deviate more from meritocracy as higher institutions become increasingly expensive.

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