NPR

What If Elite Colleges Switched To A Lottery For Admissions?

What if we just pulled names out of a hat to find out who gets into America's top colleges? K-12 lottery systems might give us an idea about what would happen.
Source: Peter Judson for NPR

For the second time in as many years, the nation is in the midst of a frenzy over who gets to sleep in the extra-long twin beds at a tiny fraction of highly selective colleges and universities. Last year, it was a lawsuit over Harvard University's admissions process, particularly its treatment of Asian-Americans. This year, it's a scandal involving rich parents and a criminal scheme to get their children into universities like Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California. Fifty people have been charged in a scam that allegedly includes cheating on the SAT and ACT and bribing unscrupulous coaches.

By highlighting flaws in the college admissions process, these stories illustrate the deep inequities in access to the United States' elite universities. And the debate is surfacing some out-of-the-box ideas about what an alternative might look like. For example: What about a lottery?

Rick Hess,in a piece on March 15:

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR3 min read
A Puppeteer Gets Swept Up In Political Theater In 'Kingdom For A Stage'
In her new book, Heidi Heilig continues the tale of family, rebellion and necromancy begun in For a Muse of Fire. Heilig tackles difficult issues deftly, and sets up readers for a rousing conclusion.
NPR4 min read
'Exalting The Banal To The Monumental' Through California Skate Parks
The state that gave birth to modern skateboarding is home to concrete playgrounds that are works of art in the eyes of photographer Amir Zaki: "They become more imaginative and open as spaces."
NPR2 min readPolitics
Cory Booker On Impeachment: 'I Swore An Oath To Protect And Defend The Constitution'
The New Jersey senator and presidential hopeful says Congress must take action. "Politics be damned. I have a job to do, which is to hold the executive accountable and we should be doing that."