It is not meritocratic primarily because of financial reasons. In the United States our society is run by money rather than merit, and it is hard for those without it to become one who has it because of the high prices of college. Even schools like Occidental, who promote social progression, need to recruit as many students that can pay as it can for the sake of being able to run the college. Commonly we wonder why schools don’t accept students based on merit alone, and even the ones that seem to want to do not. It is because colleges are not cheap to run, public schools have to rely less on the government for funding, and private schools don’t even have enough to give their professors livable wages. The prices of education keep rising and rising and hence schools must look for wealthier students that can afford to pay for their education. Of course this only increases the problem of inequity in higher education, but the point is, colleges are simply not able to admit everybody who deserves to go to their schools. From personal experience I have seen how much money can talk. A student from my former high school came from a family that has millions and millions of dollars, he was a significantly worse student than I, but he went to an Ivy league school. Of course on the other hand, I have to receive a fair amount of financial aid from Oxy, but the school still chose to accept me. While money does speak louder than grades, they are not worthless, and in some cases students are accepted based on merit over money. Of course not every student at Oxy could have the same amount of aid or else the school could not afford to continue to run. So overall schools are generally based on money because schools simply cannot afford any other way, however some students are accepted based on merit which may lead to a very slow progression. Of course not at a significant rate, but it is still important to acknowledge that schools are not 100% money driven.