Artificial Scarcity, College Edition

Like so many other stories about inequality, this one seems to be touching a nerve.

But the NYT Editorial Board says it best:

Whether students are admitted because their parents paid for a boathouse, or because their parents bribed the sailing coach, it is still the case that merit alone is not deciding the issue.

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And it’s more than the hypocrisy of pretend merit. It’s also the hypocrisy of artificial scarcity. Between housing prices and elite college admissions, we seem intent on preserving our own experience, and screw the newcomers. Don’t build more housing because the character of my own house or neighborhood might change. Don’t expand educational opportunities because the character (read: status) of my university might change.

There is no reason why elite universities cannot educate more people. The nation’s largest public universities enroll over 50,000 students each. Stanford has an undergraduate enrollment of around 7,000. It’s not hard to imagine why.