Carolina Day School

Honors Papers 2021-22

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Staudt 1 Ryssa Staudt Ms. Evans AP Language and Composition 11 October 2020 Mired by Humanity In America we idealize the Meritocratic system. Meritocracy is a political and social structure in which people achieve through displays of merit. Merit, in a perfect world, traverses class divisions and propels the gifted into the elite. Yet the definition of merit adjusts to the needs of gatekeepers. Today institutions seek the help of meritocracy to reflect societal values of representation and diversity. Elite high schools, colleges, and universities use merit "adjustments"' to create a diverse student body that justly meets society's standards. If the definition of merit changes based on institutions (or peoples) requirements, we call into question the extent to which the entire system is meritocratic. Even if a diversity qualification goes beyond the bounds of meritocracy, does it add value to society? Elite schools admission standards not only take into account traditional merit—great grades, high levels of community involvement, impressive extracurriculars, and excellent SAT/ACT scores—they strive to take into account diversity. Shamus Khan, a professor at Columbia University, discusses St. Paul's School's goal "to recruit the talented members of the minority groups" (10). He says institutions like St. Paul's and the Ivy League aim "to look less and less like an exclusive yacht club and more and more like a microcosm of our diverse social world" (14). The majority of students who attend St. Paul's and other elite schools are upper class, but the schools seek to reflect the range of people in today's world; "Rich and poor, black

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