This paper “Concept of a Meritocracy” attempts to look into the issue of how higher education in the United States and the concept of a meritocracy are firmly entwined. A meritocracy is comprised of an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class or privilege.
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The issue between education and meritocracy arises due to the cost of higher education. While there is the start of a meritocracy in place, in terms of higher education, it is not possible to state that the current system of education in countries such as the United States could be identified as a meritocracy.
In a meritocracy, the level that a person can raise to in that form of society is not based upon wealth, power, or class, but solely on what the person can accomplish. In the case of higher education, however, there is the price tag of a high tuition associated with the increased knowledge. The issue arises from the fact that “in a meritocracy, social status becomes increasingly dependent upon an individual’s level of education” (Liu, 2010). In order to be able to fully understand the correlation between higher education and the concept of a meritocracy, a clear understanding of the word, its meanings, and its associations must be formed.
In 1958 a man named Michael Young published a mock sociological study addressing the time period between 1870 and 2033, “during which society becomes sorted by the ‘merit’ of its members, as measured by the results of IQ testing” (Pickert, 2010). In this book, The Rise of the Meritocracy, Young extrapolated the projected data based on trends that he saw in British society between 1870 and 1958. Young stated “now that people are classified by ability, the gap between the classes has inevitably become wider. Today the eminent know that success is just reward for their won capacity, for their own efforts and for their own undeniable achievement. These deserve to belong to a superior class” (pg. 96). Lemann, in his book made special note of the fact that regardless of the flawed design of a meritocracy, the United States is one of the countries that has embraced this idea whole heartedly, and in fact strives to attain this very goal, as it allows those who have gained their education, and who have better jobs based on that merit, yet another reason to look down upon those who have not accomplished the same feats. There are two different types of institution that a person in the United States may go in order to attain a higher education; public or private schools, regardless of whether or not they are a university or a college. Private institutions of higher learning are more likely to come with a higher price tag, have a more exacting admissions process, and demand more of the students who have chosen to pay for their education
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