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The issue of college admissions in the United States is once again in the news. President Donald Trump’s Justice Department has alleged that Yale University’s use of race as a criterion for undergraduate admissions violates civil rights law. The accusation is sure to provoke lots of bitter ideological and partisan argument, and it will eventually have to be resolved by the courts.

But it also offers us an occasion to think carefully about the purpose of college admissions — what ought to determine who gets into top schools, and what actually does determine it. There’s much that’s unfair about the process, and the pandemic will only make that unfairness more acute.

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