The Conversation: The fairest admissions system for elite colleges is a lottery

If the Harvard admissions trial teaches us anything, it should be that there are more brilliant and accomplished young people in the United States eager for a top-notch education than there are seats to accommodate them. Places like Harvard and other elite colleges select students from a pool flush with well-qualified applicants who could handle the coursework, contribute to campus life, and go on to great things after college.

The former president of Harvard, Drew Faust, once said that Harvard could fill the class “twice over with valedictorians.” And as part of its defense in what has come to be known as “the affirmative action trial,” the university has said it could also fill its incoming class of roughly 2,000 students almost twice over with students with perfect scores on the math SAT.

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