We are now headed into a time of abundance when it comes to educational resources. All the books in the world are now available on your iPad or your phone or your computer, or will be soon. The same is true for all of the lectures of all of the smartest people in the world, and the course notes and the problem sets. ... Once they're built, the cost of providing them to the 10,000th student or the millionth student is almost nothing.
The problem with college admissions is that colleges don't really know that much about students. All they kind of have to go on is an SAT [or ACT] score, which is kind of a blunt instrument ... a high school transcript, which is sort of hard to figure out, [and] maybe a personal essay, who knows who wrote the personal essay. So they tend to fall back on, "Is this person a legacy? Did they go to a 'good high school?'" Well, everyone figures out where "good high schools" are and people pay a lot of money in tuition if it's a private high school, or in the real estate market to buy a house near the good high school. And so again the opportunities for students to go to particularly elite colleges that are often the stepping stone toward the best jobs in government or business are in many ways constricted to a narrow band of people.
You just have to look at the numbers and you see that people who attend America's most elite universities are disproportionately wealthy, disproportionately well-off, in many cases disproportionately white; their parents both have college degrees, which is unusual. And because college is getting more and more expensive, it's less of a meritocracy, I would argue. If only the rich can afford to go to the "good colleges," then we don't have a system of opportunity; we have a system of replicating privilege that already exists. I think that — given the wider trend of growing inequality in the United States of America — is a huge, huge problem.