Harvard wants to be exclusive.

I saw a post from Marc Andreeson called It’s Time to Build. In it, he mentioned Harvard could teach 1,000,000 students if it wanted to.

Except Harvard can’t teach 1,000,000 students.

Harvard can’t teach 1,000,000 students because Harvards main offering isn’t education, it’s exclusivity. It’s being part of a small club. It’s the reason rich parents send their kids their and pay a lot of money to do it.

It has a secondary effect too. It creates chips on other people’s shoulders. When a person sees themselves as better than Harvard Alumni, but loses a job to them, they start to work harder in their career. They start to push themselves. They may even think they are missing a piece of knowledge, so they start to pour over old textbooks and new material to find what they are missing.

Of course, what they are missing is simply a story. The story is that Harvard is the best school in the world, so it must produce better Alumni.

The reality is Harvard has built a system based on turning away everyone who isn’t likely to do much in life. Have a super wealthy family, well you’re probably heading for the C-suite, so Harvard admits you so they can brag about how many CEOs they “create.”

Working on a cure for cancer at 15. That’s some uncommon ambition and focus. Harvard will admit you as you are likely to do something with enthusiasm even if it’s not curing cancer. It could be founding a biotech company.

The education system could use a massive overhaul, but it’s not going to start with Harvard. Harvard’s main offering isn’t education, it’s exclusivity, so they aren’t going to be the one to lead this charge.

If your goal is to be educated, you can find learning materials anywhere, likely for free. If your goal is a credential, a sense of belonging or a club, it’s likely you’ll have to pay (a lot) for it.