A modest proposal regarding college admissions

Frederick Hess:

Here’s another way to look at this: This isn’t an indictment of America but of the elite college cartel and the pathologies that it has enabled and exploited. It’s an indictment of the way elite colleges sell fast-passes to lucrative jobs on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, of the manufactured scarcity that they have cultivated, and of the way they have avidly marketed that scarcity. When colleges sell access, or are so inept that they make it easy for the rich to buy access, this isn’t an indictment of American parents who pay for tutors or who diligently use their 529s to save for their kids’ tuition. This is an indictment of elite colleges.

If admissions offices cannot detect even rudimentary corruption and institutions can’t stop themselves from selling access, it raises the question of whether we can trust them to make subtle distinctions when it comes to sensitive issues like race and merit. What we’ve learned this week can’t help but raise questions, for instance, about affirmative action and whether the courts can in good faith give admissions offices the latitude to make fraught decisions about how to incorporate consideration of race within the delicate bounds of constitutional propriety.

Given all this, here’s a modest proposal: Maybe elite colleges should put their money where their mouth is when they pontificate about the need to democratize opportunity, take a page out of the K-12 charter school book, and switch to lottery admissions.