Meritocracy Is All We Have Time For

Academia is not a lottery. Prospective graduate students are not randomly assigned to jobs. Rather, in most fields, all things being equal, graduate students with the most publications in the highest-ranked journals have better job prospects than those who don’t publish or who publish in low-prestige journals. Graduate students from higher-ranked programs have a much better chance of getting a tenure-track job than those who come from low-ranked programs. In some fields, such as English, the top 60 departments hire almost exclusively from the top six.