It may be true that college degrees are tickets out of poverty, but most of the tickets are passed out at birth to children in a small number of families with a lot of money. In the United States, students with math scores in the bottom half who come from families with the highest socioeconomic status are more likely to finish a college degree than students from families with the lowest socioeconomic status who have math scores in the top half of the range.13 In a true meritocracy, the mediocre children of college-educated parents would constantly be tumbling down into the non-college-educated working class, replaced by smarter, upwardly mobile scions of the working class. But overclass families will do anything they can to make sure that their offspring remain in the university-credentialed elite into which they were born, including, in the United States, bribing university admissions officials and reference letter writers.
The Industrial Revolution did not replace class systems in the West with classless, meritocratic societies. It replaced the old, mostly hereditary class system consisting of landlords and peasants with a new, mostly hereditary class system consisting of managers and proles, in which degrees are the new titles of nobility and diplomas the new coats of arms.

Michel Lind, The New Class War


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