Sorry, Class of 2018. Harvard Is No Longer America’s Most Elite Institution

Harvard may have met its match. In a segment that aired earlier this week on "The Colbert Report," Stephen Colbert commented on the fact that 23,000 people applied for 600 jobs at two recently-opened Walmart stores, giving Walmart a frighteningly low acceptance rate of 2.6 percent.

Colbert put it best when he warned applicants to Harvard and Princeton that they may be aiming too low. "It turns out," he said, "there's now an even more elite institution on the scene."

This news is obviously distressing for current students at Harvard (it really has been a tough week), but is likely even more distressing for the Harvard Admissions Office, which just sent out early action decisions to prospective members of the Class of 2018.

Walmart poses a unique threat to Harvard because it has come out of nowhere in the selective admissions game. Unlike Yale and Princeton, which Harvard competes against every year, Walmart has flown under the radar and has now made an entrance unlike anything the Harvard admissions team has ever seen.

The effects of this are still unclear. On one hand, some high school seniors will be more drawn to Walmart now that is has established the lure of exclusivity. On the other hand, Harvard may benefit from the rebound of this news, as students may be less intimidated to apply to the second most exclusive institution in the country.

Walmart also lacks an early action program, which seems to be working in the short run—but may not be to its advantage in the long run.

To students at Harvard: it may be hard to accept, but we’re no longer at the most exclusive place in the universe. This is going to be hard, but we’re going to fight through this and come back strong next year.

And finally, to all those worried about this increase in selectivity across the board, Stephen Colbert had it right: there’s always that safety school Yale.

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