The Problem with Elite Tertiary Education


Lea Flavier

Graduating college and getting a degree is the known, conventional standard to succeed in life in terms of financial well-being. That being said, attending a big-name institution heightens a person’s probability of thriving in a competitive work environment. People look at you differently with the mere mention of the college you attended. After the spectacle of the COVID-19 phenomenon and its bizarre impact on tertiary education, prominent colleges and universities such as the Ivy League schools have provided incoming aspirants with test-optional applications. The catch? The constantly decreasing acceptance rates and rapidly increasing tuition. This, along with the favor towards legacy students leaves lower and working-class families to opt for colleges that fit within their budget. When does the problem pose in this situation?

The system is a perverse, repetitive cycle of admitting wealthy students to provide them with a standing, only to make them even richer later on. It is not news that an overwhelming majority of students in elite schools come from the ruling class, and it certainly is not a question that more often than not, the wealthy would buy their way into these schools. Recently, the demographics for the Ivy League states that ⅔ of their student body comes from a rich household and less than 4 percent  from poor households. 25 to 35 percent of Ivy League admits came with a legacy status, meaning that they were born from a family whose members were predecessors from their chosen school. It is not only affordability and accessibility that come into play within their success in getting into these schools. Even the privilege of coming from a good high school with more opportunities, leverage, network, and an overall better learning environment boosts them with a whole lot of advantage. 

It is not only the Ivy League schools who are to blame for the morally corrupt legalization of social class bribery, but as well as any other top college that let the high class gentrify their campuses for the sole purpose of exclusivity. The focus should be targeted on lower-class students who dropout of college at such high rates for reasons of destitution, lack of support, and income stagnancy. 51.04 percent of undergraduates that struggle financially drop out of college, 10.5 times more likely than wealthier students. Such a devastating concentration needs great reform, as it only shows how social mobility is unevenly distributed in this country. If change is not started even in the ranks of education, it will never reach higher.