Reimagining Merit as Achievement

66 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2013

Date Written: 2013


Higher education plays a central role in the apportionment of opportunities within the American meritocracy. Unfortunately, narrow conceptions of merit limit the extent to which higher education broadens racial and socioeconomic opportunity. This article proposes an admissions framework that transcends these limited notions of merit. This “Achievement Framework” would reward applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have achieved beyond what could have reasonably been expected. Neither race nor ethnicity is considered as part of the framework; however, its nuanced and contextual structure would ensure that racial and ethnic diversity is encouraged in ways that traditional class-conscious preferences do not. The overarching goal of the framework is to help loosen the “Gordian knot” binding race to class by ensuring that higher education opportunities are apportioned in true meritocratic fashion.

Keywords: disparity, racial opportunity, socioeconomic opportunity, family, educational inequality, higher education, standardized test, affirmative action, achievement, meritocracy, law school, admission, class-conscious, race-conscious, wealth, income, race and equality

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Aaron N., Reimagining Merit as Achievement (2013). Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-9, Available at SSRN: or

Aaron N. Taylor (Contact Author)

AccessLex Institute ( email )

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