The commentariat is understandably fixated on the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling upholding the constitutionality of racial preferences in college admissions, with those on the Left proclaiming that the justices saved meritocracy and those on the Right arguing that they destroyed it. But the decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas may not even be this week’s most important news on the meritocracy-in-education front.
In a major reform that may trickle down to other companies, Goldman Sachs is moving to go “school agnostic”—that is, reduce as much as possible the influence that an applicant’s alma mater has on the company’s selection process. Bloomberg reports:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., seeking to curb bias in its selection of junior employees, plans to discontinue on-campus interviews for undergraduates.
The move is a part of an overhaul at the New York-based bank that will standardize the recruiting process and seek to eliminate the likelihood that an interviewer chooses a candidate based on traits they share, such as college athletics or extracurricular activities, executives of the firm said Thursday. […]
Beginning with next year’s class, on campus interviews will be restricted to MBA students as the firm tries to become “school agnostic,” according to Russell Horwitz, co-chief operating officer of the Goldman Sachs’s securities division.
It’s an open secret Ivy League graduates tend to have a large and unjustifiable leg up in snagging high-paying jobs at big firms. Many hiring managers use college prestige as an imperfect proxy for candidates’ intellectual ability. The top schools also labor to bring firms like Goldman and McKinsey to campus and shepherd students in their direction. And the cycle tends to be self-perpetuating, as Harvard and Stanford alumni at J.P. Morgan or Google are more likely to have personal connections with the students at their alma maters than with equally or more capable students from West Texas University or Chico State.
Not only does this phenomenon exacerbate income inequality, it also facilitates the formation of a segregated upper class of people who live in the same places, work at the same companies, and hold the same political views.
If Goldman Sachs and its peer firms make a real and sustained push to level the playing field and revoke the special advantages Ivy Leaguers de facto enjoy, it will be a bigger win for meritocracy than campus administrators can achieve with any number of social justice and diversity centers. And if the unearned social and economic premiums from attending elite schools are brought back down to earth, the affirmative action debate will become far less important.