Why the Fuck Do You Trust Harvard?
college admissions has, does, and will always serve only the institutions and their incredible greed
Harvard, then, and soon all the rest because of them. I’m not going to rehash all of my SAT stuff here. If you want the litany -
Your anger at the SATs is actually anger at broader social conditions which the SATs reveal
None of the arguments against the SAT are correct, or even internally coherent
Essays, too, are income stratified - because affluent kids actually are better prepared
Grades (and all other educational data) are race and income stratified too, because those gaps in preparedness are real, so what the fuck are we even talking about here
Educational testing is in fact remarkably valid, reliable, and predictive
Here is what I want to say to you: at the end of this process, no matter how you change it, no matter how many statements the schools put out about diversity, no matter how many thumbs you put on all the scales to select for a certain kind of student, at the end of this process are self-serving institutions of limitless greed and an army of apparatchiks who are employed only to protect their interests. That’s it. You can’t make college admissions fair by getting rid of the SAT because colleges admissions can’t be “fair.” College admissions exist to serve the schools. Period. End of story. They always have, they always will. College admissions departments functioned as one big anti-Semitic conspiracy for decades because that was in the best interest of the institution. Guys who the schools know will never graduate but who run a 4.5 40 jump the line because admissions serves the institution. Absolute fucking dullards whose parents can pay - and listen, guys, it’s cute that you think legacies are somehow the extent of that dynamic, like they won’t let in the idiot son of a wealthy guy who didn’t go there - get in because admissions serves the institution. Some cornfed doofus from Wyoming with a so-so application gets in over a far more qualified kid from Connecticut because the marketing department gets to say they have students from 44 states in the incoming class instead of 43 that way, because admissions serves the institution. How do you people look at this world and conclude that the problem is the SAT?
And what just drives me crazy, what I find so bizarre, is that all these PMC liberals in media and academia think they’re so endlessly disillusioned and over it and jaded, but they imagine that it was the SAT standing in the way of these schools admitting a bunch of poor Black kids. What the fuck do you think has been happening, exactly? They’re standing around, looking at all these brilliant kids from Harlem and saying “oh God, if only we could let in these kids. We need to save them from the streets! But we can’t get past that dastardly SAT.” They decide who to let in, and they always have! They can let in whoever they want! Why on earth would you put the onus on the test instead of the schools? You think, what, they would prefer to admit kids whose parents can’t possibly donate? The whole selection process for elite schools is to skim a band of truly gifted students from the top, then admit a bunch of kids with identical resumes whose parents will collectively buy the crew team a new boathouse, and then you find a kid whose parents moved to the states from Nigeria two years before he was born and whose family owns a mining company and you call that affirmative action. And if you look at all this, and you take to Twitter to complain about the SAT instead of identifying the root corruption at the schools themselves, you’re a fucking mark, a patsy. You’ve been worked, you’ve been took. You’re doing the bidding of some of the wealthiest, most elitist, most despicable institutions on earth. You think Harvard gives a single merciful fuck about poor Black teenagers? Are you out of your goddamned minds?
It was in their best interest to use the SAT before, so they used it. Now it’s in their best interest to have even more leeway to select the bumbling doofus children of the affluent, and you’re applauding them for it in the name of “equity.” Brilliant.
It’s all corrupt. All of it. From the top to the bottom. It is so insane that all of these people who are ostensibly so cynical about institutions, who will tell you that capitalism is inherently a rigged game, who think meritocracy is a joke, who say that they think these hierarchies are all just privilege, will then turn around and say “ah yes, the SAT is gone, now fairness and egalitarianism will reign.” The whole damn thing makes no sense - it is nonsensical to talk about equality in a process that by its most basic nature is designed to select for a tiny elite! How the fuck do you think it’s going to work, exactly, when the SAT is gone? They’re still nominating a tiny elite to enjoy the most outsized rewards human life has to offer. That’s destructive no matter who gets a golden ticket. By its very nature.
“Equality”?!? Harvard only lets in 2000 kids a year! You really think carving out space for 50 more Black kids among them, if that actually even happens, is going to result in some sort of quantum leap forward for the average Black American? Is it not obvious that the whole scheme of fixing our racial inequalities by starting at the top by selecting some tiny number of Black overachievers and hoping the good times trickle down has failed, over and over again, since the start of desegregation? You can’t make Harvard “fair!” You can’t make it “equal!” Thinking otherwise is absolutely bonkers to me. Harvard exists to make sure our society is not equal. That is Harvard’s function.
You get that they just want to make it easier to turn down the poor but brilliant children of Asian immigrants, right? You understand that what Harvard and its feckless peers would like is to admit fewer students whose Korean parents clear $40,000 a year from their convenience stores, right? And you think, what, they’re going to be walking around Brownsville, handing out admissions letters to kids with holes in their pockets and a dream in their hearts? To the extent that any Black students are added to the mix by these policies, it’s going to be the Jaden and Willow Smiths of the world. If you think Harvard has any actual, genuine desire to fill its campus with more poor American-born descendants of African slaves you are out of your fucking mind. Just absolutely unhinged.
You hate the SAT. I get it. I will repeat myself in saying that, frankly, I think this is mostly because you didn’t do as well at it as you thought, it didn’t confirm your place as one of the lonely geniuses of our times, and this is your revenge. Cool, cool. You’ve firmly established your own place on the ladder, so now you want to pull it up. Cool, cool. Well, look, Mr. and Mrs. Jaded, blue checkmarks, oh sultans of ironic detachment, why don’t you prepare another audaciously dry tweet that shows your insouciant take on contemporary American meritocracy, only this time instead of carrying water for the most vile and existentially hierarchical institutions imaginable, which reap insane profits from the interest on their endowments alone, perhaps you could take a moment and contemplate the possibility that getting rid of the SATs is just another way for them to consolidate total and unfettered privilege to choose whoever is going to make their pockets even heavier, and that they are and will always be in the business of nominating an aristocracy that will deepen inequality and intensify exploitation no matter what kind of faces they happen to have, Black or white, Jew or gentile, all of them the elect, Elois over Morlocks, and this is the system to which you have lent your faith, the vehicle you expect to deliver us equality. What a world, what a world, what a world.
> You understand that what Harvard and its feckless peers would like is to admit fewer students whose Korean parents clear $40,000 a year from their convenience stores, right?
THANK YOU for spelling this out. The entire post was cathartic. (And thanks for an extra weekend post! They are always an unexpected treat.)
I don’t know if my Asian kid will be interested in schools like Harvard one day. I certainly don’t plan to encourage it (state school worked out fine for me). But I’m sick of these elite institutions doing everything they can to reduce the number of Asian students while dressing it up as social justice. The hypocrisy is nauseating.
Fuck yes. This channels my absolute rage over this issue better than any ironically detached “it’s wrong to ditch the SATs but my kid is still going to get into Harvard” Matt Yglesias post ever could.
The thing that makes me angriest is how much shittier this makes kids’ lives. They already had to do bizarre shit like start their own non profit institutions for their college resumes and now the last vestige of a chance for just a regular old smart poor or working class kid to stand out as genuinely remarkable in intellect and potential is gone. It’s all slavish devotion to not just grades, but wildly expensive extracurriculars, “volunteer” work, special projects that their parents can fund, and of course the essay contest which is the easiest thing in the world to game. And these things make teenagers lives MISERABLE and narrow. To be honest, I don’t give a shit what Harvard does but it enrages me that the UC system did this.