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Ross: How Harvard can solve college admissions

A view of the campus of Harvard University on July 8, 2020, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

There’s a good chance the Supreme Court will take up a discrimination case against Harvard University and decide once and for all if race can be used to choose among qualified applicants.

Harvard currently has what’s called “race-conscious” admissions. There is no strict racial quota, but in the event of a tie, Harvard is allowed to choose the candidate who would add to the racial diversity.

But a group called Students for Fair Admissions sued, saying that policy discriminates against Asian-Americans. With six conservative votes on the court, Harvard could well lose.

So then what? I’m going to say let fate decide.

College applications tend to fall into three groups: You have the students who are so thoroughly overqualified they’re accepted without a second thought. Then there are the students so pathetically underqualified they can be rejected without a second thought.

Then you have the third group – the students on the cusp of greatness; applicants who could tip either way depending on a musical talent, a compelling backstory, a rich relative, or an underrepresented race.

To use race feels unfair because it’s something you can’t change. But then there are lots of things we can’t change about ourselves: our family circumstances, the wiring of our brains, our work ethic.

Once you get into that gray area, to get rejected after coming so close always feels unfair, no matter what the reason. The whole process presumes that your past can predict your future.

So for that group on the cusp, throw their numbers into a hat and let fate decide.

Harvard should admit them at random. That creates the possibility of the happy accident for the student who fits none of the usual criteria but becomes a star once they’re in the right environment.

I’ll go even farther. Harvard should join the vaccine sweepstakes and offer full scholarships for 100 lucky vaccinated 17 year-olds.

Problem solved.

Plus, the winners always have the option of transferring to Cornell once they come to their senses.

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